How many voices constitute a groundswell? I argued last week that the House Republicans, if they really wanted to juice the economy, create employment, and win political success, would drop the empty debate over the Bush tax cuts and give us a new package of job-boosting “Speaker Boehner tax cuts” instead.
Why trap yourself in a 10-year-old policy that favors billionaires that your own congressional budget office has concluded is a lousy way to boost employment?
Is a rerun of the Bush years the best that Republicans can come up with?
Is that what last Tuesday was about?
Well, it seems that others share my sentiments. And prominent conservative others at that. Writing on Bloomberg.com, the American Enterprise Institute’s chief economist, Kevin Hassett, gave similar advice to the House Rs and President Obama on Sunday.
“The fact is, if we extend the Bush tax cuts, it locks in the status quo. Earth to Washington: The status quo stinks,” he writes.
“With the economy still limping forward, much more significant fiscal-policy medicine is in order,” Hassett adds. “Rarely has a new conversation been so needed. Isn't it time we stopped fighting over Bush's tax policy? Wouldn't it be refreshing to have a fiscal-policy debate without repeating Bush's name?”
Hassett suggests that the United States drop its corporate tax rate to make American employers more competitive, and cut out all the gooey tax breaks and credits that powerful interests have slid into the tax code since the last major simplification, a bipartisan effort during the Reagan years.
The new Obama-Reid-McConnell-Boehner tax cuts could be linked, he says, to the findings of Al Simpson’s commission on our long-term fiscal health, which will soon recommend tax reforms and spending cuts in an effort to bring sanity to federal budgeting.
Americans know that both parties got us into this mess. And given the fractious state of our politics, both parties will need to act together--admittedly, a long shot proposition--to get us out. Republicans, in particular, may decide that two more years of opposing everything is their ticket to controlling Congress in 2012. Hassett isn’t so sure.
“If Obama enacts major tax changes with Republicans, he will have delivered legitimate change and set himself up to be re-elected in 2012,” Hassett says. But “Congressional Republicans can lock in their political gains by showing voters that they can govern effectively. They might even produce something we have not seen in a very long time: a popular speaker of the House of Representatives. There's so much we can accomplish, if only we begin by forgetting about the Bush tax cuts.”