Fiscal Cliff Bill Passes House, What Next?

Without going into the whole kabuki theater surrounding this deal and vote (Hot Air has the whole process recorded if you’re interested), the McConnell-Biden deal passed in the House as-is 257-167 (Democrats 172 for; Republicans 151 against).

After the passage, it appears as though two distinct camps have emerged among conservatives. the first group seems to be focusing on the fact that the deal made the Bush tax rates permanent for 99% of Americans. For example:

The other group, exemplified by the Twitchy Team, is apoplectic over the deal because it agrees to a higher tax rate on certain Americans (doesn’t make the cuts permanent) and doesn’t address spending cuts. For example:

As for an analysis of this deal, let me first say that I think it stinks. The fact that tax rates are going up to fuel the Democrats’ spending is enough to make me vomit (especially since the “Plan B” fiasco drove the deal further left). However, given the political realities of the day, I’m more inclined to agree with those who see the Bush tax rates being made permanent for the vast majority of Americans as a good thing considering the horrible spot the Republicans were backed (backed themselves?) into. This now has the effect of separating the tax issue from the spending negotiations, and removes the “Bush Tax Cuts” as leverage for Obama:

Granted, the sequester issue was kicked down the can for two months, and the only way the Republicans can turn this deal into a positive is if they parlay any leverage they have in the coming debt ceiling negotiations into a real stand for spending cuts. No one wants to address the issue of entitlement spending at this point, despite the President’s lip service to the contrary, and real spending cuts cannot be had until this issue is addressed. However, if the Republicans can make a stand on cuts when the debt ceiling talks begin (Newt Gingrich redux, anyone?) then the separation of cuts from the tax deal may turn out to be a win for the GOP. They will then have been able to address meaningful cuts, and protect 99% of Americans from higher taxes; if you are results-oriented, then this is about as good as you can hope for when up against an administration that wants nothing more than to take as much of your money as possible and spend it in politically expedient ways. Let’s just hope upon hope that the Republicans don’t cave again (yeah I know, what am I smoking?), otherwise, they gain nothing, and all we’ll hear about for the next four years are the “Obama Tax Cuts.”

My only question is where is the GOP public relations team in all of this? There should be a concerted effort to describe how this was a win for republicans in getting Obama to cave over the $250K issue, and how this will protect the tax rates for the vast majority of Americans. At least this guy is trying:

[UPDATE 1/2/13]

I understand that there is strong negative sentiment about the fiscal cliff deal from conservatives who believe that the real problem is spending not revenue (and I agree). However, it appears that there is a good deal of hypocrisy floating around on the right in criticising the bill’s passage. Via Mary Katharine Ham, Philip Klein notes one such example of this hypocrisy:

What has been shocking, however, is that I’m seeing a number of conservative critics blasting the deal for increasing deficits by $4 trillion when about 92 percent of that projected increase comes from tax cuts that they support. Brent Bozell, for instance, issued a statement calling the deal a “surrender,” complaining that “not only does this bill fail to make meaningful spending cuts, it actually spends another $4 trillion we don’t have!” Excuse me? For decades, conservatives have been complaining — for good reason — whenever liberals conflate tax cuts and spending. Now, in campaigning against this fiscal cliff deal, they are following the lead of liberals.

Let’s just take a moment to remember why this is so significant. By describing tax cuts as a “cost” and as “spending” as liberals typically do, it suggests that all income is effectively the federal government’s to keep. Anything less than 100 percent taxation is effectively a subsidy if this line of reasoning is followed to its logical conclusion. However, conservatives have always rightly argued that it’s the people who have the right to their own earnings. When Americans pay fewer taxes than they otherwise would, it doesn’t represent a cost — it represents savings.

This deal does increase deficits by nearly $4 trillion, according to the Congressional Budget Office — but more than $3.6 trillion of that amount comes from forgone tax revenue.

Another example of this hypocrisy is an argument I’ve being seeing floating around Twitter a great deal. Specifically, that despite the Bush Tax Cuts becoming the permanent new rate, taxes are still going up on the middle class because the 2010 payroll tax holiday expired. This “holiday” was nothing more than a stimulus gimmick from Obama, and was originally criticized by conservatives for not being enough to stimulate any kind of economic growth, and because it diverted needed funding from entitlements, thereby increasing their drag on the economy and contribution to the debt.

I hate to see taxes go up on anyone for any reason, but when did these payroll taxes become “real” taxes for conservatives. The same people using this argument to bash congressional Republicans are the first ones to tell leftists that payroll taxes don’t count when arguing that everyone should pay some taxes to have “skin in the game”. When the leftists counters with the fact that the lowest income brackets pay payroll taxes, the standard reply is that payroll taxes are different and fund the programs that the recipients are using.

I thought I’d never see the day that conservatives would use an Obama gimmick program to bash Republicans. What’s next, criticizing Republicans for passing the deal even though there was no funding for “Cash For Clunkers II”, or because we haven’t receives another Bush stimulus check?

Now, I’m willing to give these people the benefit of the doubt because emotions are running a little hot right now. We all need to collectively calm down, make a sandwich, and watch some sports or something. Obama and the Democrats are trying to drive a wedge into the Republican Party, and conservatives (and yes, even RINOs) need to stick together and present a united front – we shouldn’t be making enemies out of people we agree with 95% of the time. If we do, and this dissention continues, the Republicans will be split by Democrats on the left, and “conservatives” on the right. I know many would like to see the GOP razed and a new party formed, but right now, without at least any opposition to the Obama agenda, where will that leave us?

2 thoughts on “Fiscal Cliff Bill Passes House, What Next?

  1. Really good post, CTX.
    I hadn’t seen your take on this when I read Mary Katherine”s piece over at HotAir.
    Wish I had.

    Regardless, you’re right: we shouldn’t be making enemies right now. Someone should get that message to Chris Christie today, along with a few other notables.

    If the GOP keeps up this pace, things will only get worse.
    Much, MUCH worse.

    • GMTA, I think we both saw MKH’s post about the same time. I’m just hoping the the GOP will be smart enough to take the little bit of good in this agreement and parlay it into something positive by the time the debt ceiling talks start.

      I have my doubts, but I’m trying to stay positive.

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