Are the Republicans preparing their cave-in on taxes?

“This is a referendum on taxes,” said Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.), a senior member of the House Budget Committee. “If the president wins reelection, taxes are going up” for the nation’s wealthiest households, and “there’s not a lot we can do about that.”

Funny words from a party that might control Congress, or at least the House.  Read the Constitution!  Here is much more.

I’ve long maintained that Republican legislators do not hate high taxes, they only hate having to vote for high taxes.  Come this December, they may pretend to voters that they are more or less powerless, while negotiating some concessions from Obama (and other Democrats) behind the scenes.  A lot of them are probably relieved or happy that taxes can go up, and furthermore they can then complain about this the next time around.


"I’ve long maintained that Republican legislators do not hate high taxes, they only hate having to vote for high taxes."

Sorry, I hit the Windows button by mistake which posted the TC quote directly above. It's important to remember that the Republicans dug the hole that they are in all by themselves. Obama was very smart to box them in with the 'Fiscal Cliff' deal. If nothing is done, the tax rate goes back to the Clinton era which I don't think will be quite the disaster everyone is predicting (the sequestration is the really problematic side of the deal). They could have had a decent deal last summer when Boehner and Obama were discussing things but the intransigence of the Tea Partiers would not let that happen. If the current polling trends hold up and the Dems hold the Presidency, Senate, and maybe even take back the House, the Republican party in it's present form will cease to exist.

They could have had a decent deal last summer when Boehner and Obama were discussing things but the intransigence of the Tea Partiers would not let that happen.

Funny, Woodward's book makes it clear that the intransigence of President Obama would not let that happen. Even Woodward's Democratic Congressional sources seem to clearly place the blame on Obama.

Not a full telling. The Obama-Boehner talks were about what kind of bill would fail in the House.

Orange, Are you TOTALLY forgetting the 2010 elections??? If anything, political conditions are worse now for Democrats than they were then. ObamaCare remains highly unpopular, Unemployment is horrendous, energy and food costs are soaring, the misery index is way up, and on the one solid plane Democrats thought they had over Republicans, i.e. foreign policy, just went up in flames in the Middle East. Spiking the football on bin Laden is so 2011. Whatever "current polling trends" you are following are useless. See you at the polls in six weeks!

“I’ve long maintained that Republican legislators do not hate high taxes, they only hate having to vote for high taxes.”

What other core belief do Republican legislators have other than opposing increasing taxes on the top tax bracket?

Other core beliefs include "torture is good" and "Lincoln was a tyrant."

Legislators have core beliefs?

Well, they certainly can't distinguish themselves on civil liberties from the Democrats now that the Obama Administration has copied everything that GWB did. Except for a preference for killing rather than capturing.

Almost as if Obama didn't bother to read beyond the part that said 'dead' on Osama's wanted poster. Or even bothered to listen to George Bush when he said capturing Osama wasn't even a priority of his administration.

Why we elected such an ineffective president - Libyans attacking Islamic militias responsible for the death of American diplomats being just another example of the results of Obama's decisions - is beyond me. Certainly couldn't have been many Republicans involved.

(The quote from Presa. Bush - 'Who knows if he’s hiding in some cave or not. We haven’t heard from him in a long time. The idea of focusing on one person really indicates to me people don’t understand the scope of the mission. Terror is bigger than one person. He’s just a person who’s been marginalized. … I don’t know where he is. I really just don’t spend that much time on him, to be honest with you.')

I love it when one person tries to agree with another person and they end up contradicting each other.

Catch of the Day.

Gay marriage and marijuana legalization soon will become Democratic issues.

Perhaps, but I believe they are simply positioning the issue for the election. Telling the 53% of the country that pays taxes a vote for Obama = less money in your pocket, period. I'm not sure they are looking to deal, it's entire possible they wish to watch the Obama Admin go off the Fiscal Cliff. Whether that is wise or not is up for debate.

A sizable number of Republicans have always been willing to cave on taxes, but Democrats haven't been able to meet them halfway on spending cuts. It's this failure to come up with a fiscally responsible compromise which has led to the election of more and more tax-averse Republicans.

Sadly this is no longer true. Many Republicans (and a few Democrats) signalled their unwillingness to negotiate when they signed the Taxpayer Protection Pledge in 2011.

One side writes a bill, the other side attaches a amendment as kill-switch.

Meet them halfway? What are you talking about? The GOP refuses to accept any tax increase on anyone, period.

Remember the GOP primary debates, when the candidates were asked if they would accept a deal that produced $10 in spending cuts and $1 in increased taxes? They all said they would refuse.

So what's this "halfway" nonsense?

I suggest reading Woodward's book, or at least the reviews of it. The GOP was willing to accept tax increases, and had a bipartisan deal agreed upon by the Majority and Minority Leaders of both the House and Senate.

President Obama blew the deal up.

Willing to accept? Or that's what they told Woodward they were willing to do? Since they never actually voted for a tax increase, they can claim they were willing to vote for one as part of a 'reasonable deal' with Obama but at the same time tell the Tea Party they kept their pledge to fight any and all tax increases. Which Republican, for example, is actually on TV saying to the camera he was willing to vote for a tax increase back then?

We do have a model of Republican 'reasonableness' when it came to health care. Time after time Republicans were given what they wanted. No public option. No 'trigger' for a public option. Even stupid little things such as a point blank statement that patient gun ownership will not be entered into any database. And we saw time and time again yielding on a point generated no less Republican opposition. As soon as a 'deal breaker' was cut in the GOP favor, some other issue was raised as a 'deal breaker'.

I think the reality of it is Republicans say now they were 'willing' to accept higher taxes as part of a deal but in reality no deal Obama could have cut with them would have worked. Even at $10 in spending cuts to $1 in tax cuts if actually presented with the offer they would discover something wrong with it and say no.

"The GOP was willing to accept tax increases"

That is not what they were saying publicly.

False equivalence. The debt ceiling was never subject to needing a "deal" until the GOP leadership decided to use it to make Obama a one-term president.

Remember, the debt ceiling applies to policy that has already been agreed to and approved by both houses of Congress.

That's a rather odd claim, given that it exists in the first place.

It's existed since 1917. How may debt ceiling "crises" have had? How many required that a "deal" be worked out prior to passage?

"I’ve long maintained that Republican legislators do not hate high taxes, they only hate having to vote for high taxes"

so 39 % = high taxes ? and the current 36% = low ?

It should read 'higher' but TC is revealing his disposition

Orange 14, I remember it differently. Obama and Boehner had reached a tentitive agreement which included higher taxes. Obama killed the deal by suddenly pressing for more taxes than agreed. He behaved as my wife did in an Italian market when he got greedy. Granted, the Tea Party might have rebelled, but Obama, not they killed the deal.

There also seemed to be some issue about Boehner not being able to get Republican House members -- tea party -- to agree to the deal.

The problem wasn't just between between Obama and Boehner. It was also between Boehner and Cantor. By Cantor, I don't mean just him, but also all the GOP House Representatives that signed Grover Norquist's Tax Payer Protection pledge. That reads:

"I,____________, the American people that I will: ONE, oppose any and all efforts to increase the marginal income tax rate for individuals and business; and TWO, oppose any net reduction or elimination of deductions and credits, unless matched dollar for dollar by further reducing tax rates."

I'm pretty sure that the tweaks Martin Feldstein had to make to Romney's tax plan to make the math work would violate this pledge.

Remember during the GOP primaries, the candidates were asked, "Would you accept $10 in spending cuts in exchange for $1 in revenues to help reduce the deficit?" How many candidates raised their hands?

With the sudden focus on the 47% of Americans who apparently need to pay more taxes, I think it's gone down the memory hole just how rigid the House's position was on that issue regarding any American paying any higher amount of taxes.

If you were watching at the time, you knew that the Boehner/Obama talks were way less important than the talks between Boehner and his own side.

If you were watching at the time, you knew that the Boehner/Obama talks were way less important than the talks between Boehner and his own side.

Do you really think that "watching at the time" allowed us to see all the details of the negotiations between the Congressional leaders of both parties and Obama? Or did it just let us see the spin of both sides?

I think that Woodward's book has destroyed the mythmaking and spin of people "watching at the time." I understand that partisans devoted to the Obama mythmaking want to continue to believe the spin that they had at the time. However, Woodward's book, with sources from both parties and the Executive Branch, makes it clear that what "we thought at the time" was simply Presidential spin, not the reality.

Keep in mind Woodward makes his books by letting his sources write them. So you may be busting some myths but you are almost certainly creating new ones. With Romney's campaign failing, Republicans might be trying to set up their own narrative to take them through Obama's 2nd term....the 'misunderstood Tea Party' who were always more reasonable than that mean media portrayed them.

There was some concern about Republican House members not being willing to agree to the deal. But let's look at the debt ceiling deal. Democratic Members were completely willing to let the USA default on its debts rather than make any move to reduce the deficit. Republican House members, with a few exceptions, ended up backing down and signing onto a deal that didn't really cut spending in order to avoid default, abandoning their previous position.

That deal, of course, was immediately broken as all sorts of other spending has been declared "emergency" spending since then. But that's what comes of the Democrats being more willing to play hardball than the Republicans.

I read the Woodward book also, and several other versions. Boehner had asked for more spending cuts earlier in the process. Those were agreed to, Obama did not back out. Yet, when Obama asked for more revenue, this kills the deal? Not like any negotiations I have been in. Both sides get to make requests. Both sides get to say no. The way I would see this is that Boehner had to back out if he had to deliver any real new taxes. The revenue agreed to earlier was still in dispute as to whether it was a ceiling or a floor. I think neither side could really deliver on its deal with future elections on the table.


If Obama wins the election the GOP should cave on the tax issue. It will prove that the 71 Billion raised by taxing the rich will not do a thing for the economy and deficits will continue to grow.

Those are both probably pretty darn true. I doubt it will have any noticeable effect on the economy, and it definitely won't make much of a dent in the deficit.

Although, one could argue that may suggest the rates could go even higher...

Deficits are largely driven by the economy and the economy is recoverying which means in a few years look for deficits to close no matter what and whoever has the White House then will claim credit for that.

When you get back to full emplooyment, $71B a year is not a trival amount relative to the deficit and over ten year's it's $710B, there's your stimulus bill paid back.

'Deficits are largely driven by the economy.' Stop please, for one second.

What does this suggest about for the economy over, say, the past forty years. The Great Stagnation thesis is hopelessly optimistic?

Hmm, $71 billion is peanuts, is it? Try cutting that amount from defense, SS or Medicare and watch what happens.

Debates over the deficit too often fall into logical fallacies. The fact that revenue alone will not put the U.S. on a sustainable path does not imply that higher revenue is not part of the solution. And, as noted below, one of the biggest causes of the deficits today is the recession and the slow rate of recovery.

Republicans have consistently supported higher taxes as evidenced through their eagerness to spend more government money. Spending is the real tax. The question then becomes how much of the tax do you collect and how much do you defer. What Republicans have been opposed to is higher collected taxes. Hence, the last administration built up a huge deficit during an economic boom.

"Spending is the real tax."

"The question then becomes how much of the tax do you collect and how much do you defer."

No, you can also inflate a part of it away.

Jeez Doc, inflating it away is the best option of all. Apparently, even you don't realize this is a tax. Stealthy indeed.

"Jeez Doc, inflating it away is the best option of all. "

I never said that.

"Apparently, even you don’t realize this is a tax. "

Its not a tax, its far worse than taxes.

Hence, the last administration built up a huge deficit during an economic boom.

The deficit was very large before the recovery started, and was fairly small once the economy started growing. It certainly got terrible once the economy collapsed, and has remained at that huge level. I recall that at the time everyone was insisting that it was not an "economic boom," but rather a terrible, jobless recovery, very bad for that part of the economic cycle.

That, I think, is closer to the truth. Of course, for those of us who reject Old Keynesian ideas about boosting aggregate demand through fiscal stimulus, that's correct, spending should have been cut. And there is plenty of room to say that for the up part of a cycle, it was pretty terrible. Just like the current recovery is pretty terrible for a recovery, even for a recovery after such a deep recession.

The point about spending is very well taken, though. Spending definitely increased a ton under Bush from 2001-2003, as part of a Keynesian response to the recession, despite what Republicans like to claim when Democrats have the Presidency. The rate of growth moderated after that.

Politically, it might have been smarter to copy President Obama's strategy of massively increasing spending the first year, blaming that on the previous President, then being able to claim it was held steady afterwards by keeping it at that elevated level.

Keynesian response? Please give it up. The Bush tax cuts were an attempt to reprise Reagan (and timed to expire *after* Bush's 2nd term ended to 'stick it' to the next President). Medicare D was purposefully done as an unfunded new entitlement. And while the Gulf War may have been required after 9/11, there was no attempt to pay for it. This had nothing to do with stimulus in 2003 but was a Republican pop-economic belief that 'deficits don't matter' even in full employment.

Simple positioning for the election, and also a call to get more donations. Strategically, the Republicans should just let all the tax cuts expire after the first of the year. All of them.

Interestingly, that's a popular piece of advice that people are giving Democrats.

That advice is being given from the middle. The Democrats have no interest, literally no interest, in following it.

They have always arranged it so they don't have to vote for higher taxes, that is the point of the perpetual expirations. Rather it is that they love tax cuts for the wealthy and are willing to cut anything to avoid them,even, gasp, taxes on the middle class.

You mean that they've learned from how spending is regulated in the budget, where automatic spending increases above the rate of inflation, population growth, and GDP growth are baked in in advance via rolling ten year budget plans, and people are forced to vote for "painful spending cuts" instead of voting for spending increases?

I'll eat my hat if republicans compromise on anything following an election that, no matter what, is guaranteed to be closer than 2008, after which they wouldn't even vote for their own former policies when Obama endorsed them, let alone vote for Obama's policies.

Historically, the mid-terms in a President's second term see the President's party taking a beating. So I could certainly see the Republicans playing a long game, giving the President what he wants, knowing that they'll make up for it in House seats and control of the Senate (e.g. making the mid terms a referendum on this tax increase). They could be playing longer still, what with Biden signalling that he's going to run in 2016.

"Funny words from a party that might control Congress, or at least the House."

The Bush tax cuts are set to expire. How does controlling the House help the Republicans if Reid or Obama nix the extension?

This. Large taxes increases in January are already the law. Unless the House, Senate and President agree on a plan, taxes go up.

If Obama is reelected, what will be the new U.S. national sport in 2013?

Tax evasion.

That's been the national sport since Reagan. Remember, It's patriotic not to pay taxes.

Funny words from a party that might control Congress, or at least the House. Read the Constitution!

The Democrats and Obama have already shown a willingness to let the government shut down and renege on its debts rather than accept funding levels with a modest cut in a budget that passed the House. "Read the Constitution!" is a simplistic answer to the realities of US budgeting, which is a lot more than just the House.

Have you heard of the Budget Control Act? It's a bill that Democrats and Republicans passed and that Obama signed into law that prevented a government shut down and a default on the debt. It was a grand compromise, where Democrats accepted government spending cuts and Republicans accepted increases in taxes.

I'm sorry I just looked it up and my description was incorrect. My description should have read, "It was a grand compromise, where Democrats accepted government spending cuts and Republicans accepted government spending cuts."

It's 9 months through 2012, more than a year since it passed. We were supposed to see, what, $11 billion in cuts from that by now?

I am sure the republican slogan for elections is two years is "Look, we cut the deficit!"

It won't matter. The debt is so large at this point that "cutting the deficit" isn't enough. The US needs to run surpluses for decades.

"Read the Constitution!"

Actually, Rep. Cole is correct that there is not a lot Republicans can do if Democrats are determined to raise taxes. The Bush tax cuts expire at the end of the year, so keeping rates where they are will require passing a bill that President Obama can veto. Republicans won't have the votes to override.

Even so, I agree that Republicans will probably be pleased to see taxes go up without them being blamed.

It's important to recognize the rhetorical technique of the Post writer. He wants Obama reelected. He posits that compromise is only possible with Republicans if Obama is president. He never mentions Mitt Romney or considers that he might become president. He interviews various members of congress, targeting his questions in such a way as to elicit the responses he's looking for. 99% of what he hears never sees the light of day. He provides quotes with little context and knits them together in a way that supports his thesis: when Obama is reelected, Republicans will finally give up their intransigence and compromise, and our fiscal nightmares will be over. You, dear reader, are intended to conclude: a vote for Obama is my only option.

"I’ve long maintained that Republican legislators do not hate high taxes, they only hate having to vote for high taxes."

You are partially right. Republicans don't like high taxes for rich people. They are fine with raising taxes on the poor and middle class as long as it is offset by a cut in taxes for the rich. The flat tax has been the agenda since at least 1996.

How about letting the children have it both ways, dear.

We let the Bush tax cuts expire January 1, which will happen if there is no agreement.

We let both Republicans and Democrats make cuts on January 2 so that the Republicans can keep their Norquist pledge not to raise taxes. The cuts will not be as far as the Bush cuts and will be less generous at the high end


Let's kick it down the road and appoint a commission.

“I’ve long maintained that Republican legislators do not hate high taxes, they only hate having to vote for high taxes.”

They also like promising tax cuts that magically pay for themselves. Remember "dynamic scoring?"

Does this whole article rest on the assumption Obama is going to win?

I am not sure that is a good bet. The Republicans are not preparing to cave because I assume at least some of them think Romney is going to win. Despite the entire mainstream media working against him.

It is more likely that what they mean is exactly what they say - don't vote for Obama or your taxes will rise.

of course republican politicans love higher taxes, all politicans do. people need to realize this fight for our freedom that we are in is not a fight between republicans and democrats but a fight between the citizens and the politicans. remember the only time a republican is a conservative is when they are running for office.

Clearly, the Republicans must return to their role as tax collectors for the welfare state. Anything else would be irresponsible. What a great idea! Let the Democrats get the credit for passing out the cake and cookies and make the Republicans take the heat for making everyone eat their broccoli. Not.

Oh my, "Cole Caught Caving Even Before Election".

Hopefully there's not a lot of tea party energy being mis-spent on this RINO.

Stay classy, Tom.


I don't see why you frame this as a Republican cave-in. Norquist aside, 'no tax increases' was never a way to reach the kind of bargain the country needs. Anyone who looks at the numbers understands this.

There are lots of fascinating arguments about the structure of corporate taxes, dividend taxes, and capital gains taxes, but it seems to me the issue is decided by the political dynamics revealed in this campaign. Favorable capital gains taxation is a club used by Democrats to distract the American people from the inconvenient truth of substantially progressive taxation in this country.

In the 1986 tax reform, capital gains were not favorably taxed. No collapse in capital-formation ensued, as far as I know.

Let the Bush tax cuts expire, as a first step toward the much needed broad-based increase in taxes.

Let the cuts expire in the middle of a jobless recovery? Even many of the national democrats recognize the danger...

Sure, we need more tax revenue, and Simpson-Bowles points the way. But timing is everything.

The people of this country have made a ton of painful, but necessary, adjustments over the past four years.

It's tempting to hope for a stronger recovery, but somewhat higher taxes need not push the country back into recession (see 1993).

If we get 5% growth and another 20% pop in stocks, the heat will be off on further household balance sheet rebuilding and government pruning. I don't want that.

Perhaps we should refer to our representatives as republicrats or demopublicans. Their election rhetoric differs, but the net effect is the same: we'll keep the same inefficient, status quo tax code, regardless of who wins in November. We'll get more and more layers of complexity. And *both* sides are complicit.

Too many republican politicians support the unsustainable big spending status quo .

That is where the real value of Grover Norquist and the tea party shows up. First by helping to prevent any tax increases. Second by supporting fiscal conservative primary opponents to remove big spending republicans from office.

Because the big spending republican insiders are happy to lie to their base about their commitment to reducing government spending. And the fiscal situation can't be fixed without real spending cuts.

The Great Spending Betrayal

Throughout the process, GOP leaders and appropriators swore incessantly that the spending measure would not breach the $1.043 trillion cap and would cut $6.7 billion from last year’s budget authority. Well, they have lied.

In a cynical subterfuge that has become all too common in Washington, House leaders placed the offsets for the additional $8.6 billion of emergency spending in a separate bill.

This allowed members who voted for the omnibus to go on record as saying that they voted to offset the extraneous spending, thereby keeping their pledge to spend less than the previous year.

It also enabled Senate Democrats to pass the underlying omnibus bill, along with the emergency spending, but easily vote down the offsets in the third bill. And that is exactly what they did today.

Thanks for being pawns in this insidious inside-the-beltway game.

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