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A Glimmer of Fiscal Hope

by John on 05/18/2012

Apparently some Republicans in the House get it.

From Politico this morning:

A small but increasingly vocal group of freshman Republicans are publicly rejecting the idea they are beholden to Grover Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform pledge for their entire congressional careers.

It goes on:

A handful of other freshman members privately told POLITICO they had been struggling with their ATR pledge signatures, as they felt it had become clear the pledge was a hindrance to certain tax reforms they’d like to see happen.

And it quotes a number of the Congressman, including the radical Allen West, who had previously said nothing or cowered at the thought of bucking Grover Norquist.

And Reid Ribble (R-Wis.) told the Los Angeles Times he wouldn’t be signing the pledge again — or any pledge for that matter — not because he wants to raise taxes but because he wants to close certain loopholes to help pay down the deficit.

Granted, this might only be a small amount of Republicans.  However, it could be the start of a movement.  And it could also mean that these lawmakers are realizing how out-of-step they are with the majority of Americans.  Remember, the Peterson Foundation poll we discussed here.  The majority of Americans seem to know the formula for economic success; politicians don’t.

Could this transcend media bias?  I will be interested to see if MSNBC and Fox pick this up — and how they slant it.

However, this change in thinking doesn’t dismiss the GOP and the Tea Partiers for their antiquated stands on same-sex marriage, immigration, and accusations that Democrats are socialists.  I have always said the Tea Party and the GOP lose many Americans when they stray from economic issues.

Still, let’s break down this change in thinking and why this is so significant.

  • First, Norquist is an extremist bully.  His organization is rigid at a time when we need flexibility and reform in our economy.  No one likes to overpay in taxes.  But as Groucho Marx once said to a woman who claimed she had ten kids because she loves her husband: “Lady, I love my cigar but I take it out of my mouth once in a while.”
  • Second, the GOP might be really getting serious about healing the economy for everyone, not just corporations.  Tax reform is essential to leveling the playing field.  I have always been puzzled by friends who own small businesses, yet they parrot the political shouts of major corporations.  “We’re the highest taxed country in the world.” “America and Obama are anti-business.”  But wait, I say to them, you’re backing these gargantuan gluttons and you don’t get any of their tax breaks or government give-backs because you can’t bribe (donate to campaigns) like they do.
  • Third, this is the overlap of the Tea Party and Occupy movements.  They won’t acknowledge each other.  But they have a similar aim: to make the corporations less powerful and more beholden to main street and the masses.
  • Fourth, this is a bad sign for the Democrats and President Obama.  The Republicans have been doubling down on a flawed theme of complete austerity: massive cuts and no new taxes.  Tax reform – getting rid of the massive give-backs – will increase government revenues.  I wrote about this here.
  • Fifth, the young Republicans and the Tea Party may have grown up – by taking a lesson from Obama and Clinton.  Both Democratic presidents made gains by taking on the GOP talking points as their own.  Clinton ran to re-election in 1996; Obama has stayed atop the public opinion polls now despite the weak recovery.  In short, the young GOPers are saying we need higher taxes (more revenues) to get out of this long-term mess.

Here’s the formula:

  • Equal pain spread out among everyone
  • Increased revenues
  • Major long-term cuts to entitlements meaning smaller pay-outs and higher age requirements
  • Investment in job training for the new economy
  • Using the new technology to encourage small one-person, at-home businesses
  • Simplified tax system so the man or woman starting their business out of their garage has the same breaks as the major corporation
  • It’s all in Simpson-Bowles

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