Monday, December 03, 2012

More advice to the Republicans about the "Fiscal Cliff" that they surely won't follow

The Republicans are looking as insensitive and out-of-touch as ever.

A feeble few dared to suggest that maybe, just maybe, as the nation hurtles headlong toward the Fiscal Cliff, it might be appropriate to revisit the no-new-taxes-pledge. Then Grover Norquist coughed. The tax pledge is forever, he said, and the hell with circumstances. The handful of wobbly Republicans quickly got back into line with their more rigidly disciplined colleagues.

The new line is that Democrats won't approve anything that doesn't raise marginal income tax rates on 'the richest Americans' while Republicans insist (here's a shocker) that the deficit can only be trimmed by cutting spending. The Democrats are supposedly willing to go over the cliff without a raise in rates.

But over the weekend I thought I heard Speaker Boehner say revenues were on the table. While the Republicans won't negotiate rates, they'd be willing to raise revenues by closing 'loopholes.'

You know what?

Rates are a phony issue anyway.

If the top income tax rates go up from 35% (where they are now) to 39.6% (as proposed) there will still be millionaires who pay no taxes at all. Warren Buffett's effective tax rate may still be less than his secretary's. Rich people can -- and will continue to be able to -- afford to buy ways around any tax hike Washington can dream up. And Washington has dreamed up some doozies: The top income tax rate in 1944 was 94%. It went to 91% in 1946 -- and stayed there until 1964... when it 'dropped' to 77%.

If the Republicans had any brains -- and that's admittedly a big if -- they'd come out and say, Mr. President, the heck with Grover Norquist or the Koch Brothers, we agree with you: The richest Americans should have to pay more. No one has benefited more from this country than the wealthiest among us. But raising rates won't accomplish what you think it will. Why should bazillionaires get the same mortgage deduction that middle class folks and small business owners do? Let's look at how the really rich get out of paying taxes and close down those loopholes.

But don't hold your breath waiting for this to happen.

Arguably Related: Unsolicited advice to the Grand Old Party

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