The Campaign Spot

Is the Sequester or the Public’s Denial the Bigger Problem?

Permit me a stray radical thought or two . . .

House Speaker John Boehner says there’s been “no progress” in the budget talks in the past two weeks.

At this moment, Republicans in Congress need to examine which presents a more dire threat to the country:

A) A double-dip recession driven by the sequester and the expiration of the Bush tax cuts, or

B) the public’s belief (verified through polling) that our giant debt, our ticking time bomb of entitlements, and our gargantuan government can be solved by “asking the richest Americans to pay a little bit more,” as Obama insists.

Option A is terrible, but Option B is the giant locked door blocking all of the real solutions.

So if we must have tax hikes, let the tax cuts for every income level expire and let everyone of every income level pay higher taxes. Destroy the illusion among so many voters that they can get all the government they want without paying more in taxes.

We hear the sequestration deal described as terrible, but it passed both houses of Congress and was signed into law by President Obama. Everyone knew there was a possibility it would go into effect.

Mitt Romney and Republicans spent much of 2012 talking about how badly sequestration would endanger our national security by cutting defense spending. The American people voted for the man who signed it into law anyway. It is time we all saw the consequences of that.

House Republicans can and should say, “Almost all of us gave our word on opposing tax increases. Breaking that promise struck some of us as flatly unacceptable; others found it unthinkable without some sort of major policy concession from the president and his congressional allies. Not only were we expected to break our word, we were expected to so so in exchange for only the most modest of policy concessions. At no point did the president offer a deal worth it to our caucus.”

Will some portion of the public, probably a majority, blame House Republicans if there is no deal? Sure. But reaching a deal under Obama’s current terms would intensely alienate the base with little or no offsetting gain among those who currently blame (and hate) the Republicans. Many will argue that failing to reach a deal would spell doom for Republicans in the 2014 midterms, but we don’t know what the political environment will be like in November 2014. And exactly how long will the public stick with Obama’s unflinching demand for tax hikes for the rich as the effects of sequestration drag on?

Obama’s negotiating stance and tactics suggest he’s extremely convinced that going over the cliff, with the attendant double-dip recession, is a scenario where he wins politically. Maybe it’s worth seeing if that confidence is well-placed.

Look, whether roughly 51 percent of voters realize it or not, in November they effectively voted for another recession. Might as well get it over with.

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