The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Mankato Free Press Editor's Blog

November 28, 2012

View on news: fiscal cliff, Norquist

President Barack Obama took his case to the people once again as he planned to use momentum from his recent election victory on the bully pulpit at events in a number of states to rally people to call their members of Congress to support his extension of tax cuts to middle class only policy.

It will be interesting to watch the polls the next few days to see if it has an effect.

In the meantime Republican Rep. Tom Cole of Oklahoma is urging colleagues, including friend Speaker John Boehner to take the initial deal of extending only tax cuts for "98 percent" as Cole continues to describe middle class, and work on the 2 percent for long-term deal.

He sees Obama with the advantage, though other Republicans think they can win by holding out for all tax cut extensions, as happened last year.

Meanwhile Grover Norquist and his Americans for Tax Reform continues to suggest his efforts have not suffered much of a set back. He has been saying the election was a "status quo" election with Republicans holding the House and Democrats holding White House and Senate. (Though he doesn't seem to acknowledge losses in House and Senate by Republicans).

Cole says he doesn't think Norquists tax pledge applies in the current scenario, and a Washington Post story is saying "no one from Norquist's group" is telling Cole he is wrong.

Excerpt of Post article:

Cole’s basic premise is that, because the Bush tax cuts are expiring, Republicans can vote to renew the tax cuts on income below $250,000 and still not technically be voting for a tax increase on income above $250,000. Those tax cuts would merely be allowed to expire for the time being.

“I don’t see that as a violation of my pledge,” Cole said in urging his party to temporarily agree to President Obama’s deal on taxes. Cole said Republicans should push for the other tax cuts after the “fiscal cliff” is averted.

Post article also notes Norquist more or less agrees with the premise as he told the Washington Post editorial board last year.

Here’s how it was written, from July 2011:

In other words, according to Mr. Norquist’s interpretation of the Americans for Tax Reform pledge, lawmakers have the technical leeway to bring in as much as $4 trillion in new tax revenue — the cost of extending President George W. Bush’s tax cuts for another decade — without being accused of breaking their promise. “Not continuing a tax cut is not technically a tax increase,” Mr. Norquist told us. So it doesn’t violate the pledge? “We wouldn’t hold it that way,” he said.

My comment: Whatever Norquist meant now or then, he has done quite well for himself as one of the few unelected "politicians" to get a sitting with the Post editorial board.

If I were a prognosticator, I would bet a temporary deal gets done on middle tax class cut extensions only.

Then politicians of every stripe can go home for Christmas with a present for the taxpayers and feeling a bit of "bipartisan" Christmas cheer at that.

People want good things to happen in the weeks before the holidays. They resist bad things. In that respect, the Washington politicians may be like everyone else.

Let's hope so.


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