GOP standing firm on taxes
Don't look now but the Republicans in congress might just be earning their keep for once. It appears that both senate leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker John Boehner are digging in their heels on tax increases in the debt ceiling talks going on with the White House.
President Barack Obama stepped back into deficit-reduction talks Monday, only to be greeted by a double-barrel blast from Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, who peremptorily rejected any deal that would include the added revenues Obama wants together with spending cuts.
McConnell's meeting with the president stretched more than an hour, but even before the two men sat down together, the Kentucky Republican had delivered a toughly worded speech on the Senate floor and posted an opinion piece on CNN.com demanding that "tax hikes" come off the table. Returning to the Capitol after his own shorter session with Obama on Monday morning, a sad-faced Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) told POLITICO: "The issue isn't what we're willing to do. It's what they [the Republicans] are willing to do."
And the White House appears to be caving:
The Bush-era income tax rates would not be targeted. Instead, the focus would be more on corporate tax subsidies or capping deductions that most benefit the wealthy. Obama identified close to $760 billion in new 10-year tax revenues as part of his new budget "framework" in April, and the idea would be to pick from this menu and test the willingness of Republicans to consider this approach.
Of course, it's not near enough. And it's doubtful that the tea party will countenance any revenue increases at all. But so far, the GOP has gotten the Dems to put Medicare savings on the table, eschew the idea of income tax increases, and make significant cuts in discretionary spending.
Not bad if they can stick to their guns and see it through.