By Brigitte L. Nacos
The “fiscal cliff” that according to conservatives and Wall Street types will plunge the country’s economy and fiscal system into a deep crisis is nothing more than a red herring.
After they failed to buy the presidency and the majority in the U.S. Senate, the same billionaires and corporate advocacy groups in cooperation with their GOP allies in House and Senate try now to blackmail the reelected President Obama and Democrats in the Congress to agree to their fiscal rescue plan.
Their old and new position is simply this: No higher tax rates for high and highest incomes!
Yes, the Republican leaders plead for cooperation and non-partisanship for the best of the country.
But their idea of cooperation means agreement to their unfair tax policies.
Last week, a strong majority of voters rejected that GOP’s tax agenda.
According to exit polls, 47% of voters want higher tax rates for incomes of $250,000 and higher; an additional 13% wants across the board tax increases.
Although all the talk is about tax increases, at risk here is the end of the tax cuts, mostly for the rich that were adopted during George W. Bush’s presidency. Those tax cuts—along with two costly wars—are responsible for our high budget deficits in the last decade.
It cannot be disastrous to return to the tax rates of the Clinton years, when the country enjoyed an economic boom period, high employment, and a balanced federal budget—indeed, a budget surplus.
The president does not want a whole sale return to the Clinton tax rates but insists on higher rates for the high and highest income strata.
That is the right position. And the one he promised during the campaign.
On this, President Obama cannot compromise.
Rather, as Senator Patty Murray has suggested, going over the fiscal cliff than giving in to GOP pressure.
If all taxes go up this coming January because of the GOP and its super-wealthy masters, the vast majority of Americans with low and middle incomes will rightfully blame the protectors of the super-rich.