President Obama is driving the economy over the “fiscal cliff” or straight into “Taxmageddon” -- choose your catch phrase -- certain that he can convince the establishment media to blame the Republican Congress for his foot on the accelerator.
On January 1, 2013 -- just weeks from now -- more than $500 billion in tax cuts will come to an end. Taxes will jump $500 billion in 2013 and the hikes will cost Americans $5 trillion over the next decade.
Two years ago, right after the 2010 election, America faced the exact same “fiscal cliff.” What happened? Obama and the then-Democrat House and Senate majorities voted to extend all the tax cuts for two years. (They acted before the GOP formally became the majority in the House. Why move so quickly to extend the tax cuts? Obama pointed out that the economy was weak and any tax on rich or poor would kill jobs.)
So what has changed? The Republicans still run the House. Democrats still run the Senate. Obama is still president. Economy is still weak. (If the Obama recovery had been as strong as the Reagan recovery, at this point there would be 11.5 million more Americans at work.)
Obama has already passed five massive new taxes that will hit Americans on January 1, 2013: taxes on income, savings, consumer-driven health insurance, sick Americans with high medical deductions and medical devices such as pacemakers and prosthetic limbs. Those are not, Obama says, negotiable.
So why would anyone be confused as to who pulled the trigger if Obama drives us off the fiscal cliff?
Because the real negotiations are taking place in secret and then Obama’s spokesmen like Treasury Secretary Geithner and White House press secretary Jay Carney tell a false narrative to the willing courtier press.
There is only one thing that can stop this from ending badly: Sunlight. Transparency. A C-SPAN camera in the room with President Obama, Speaker Boehner and Harry Reid. Then and only then will all Americans know what each side is demanding, offering or agreeing to. Only C-SPAN cameras can stop the Obama PR team from misrepresenting both the Republican position and their own to a credulous White House press corps that doesn’t follow budget matters well but does understand that access to power is dependent on proper behavior—at least for the next four years.
It may help to remind voters—and the press—that Obama did make such transparency one of his campaign promises. He promised that Obamacare would not be written down with Washington lobbyists in a room that kept out the American public. Oh, well. He didn’t quite keep that promise, but now there is an opportunity to do it right. As promised.
If the C-SPAN cameras were in the fiscal cliff negotiation room then Obama would have a hard time convincing Americans that his budget is serious. He is demanding $1.6 trillion in higher taxes. He is promising to save money by not occupying Iraq and Afghanistan for the next ten years. Is this a joke? Why doesn’t he save real money by not re-fighting the Korean War or the war of 1812? We are saving billions by not continuing many wars that are already over. No one has ever had the silliness to claim those as budget savings. Obama also wants to count as savings more than one trillion dollars of budget reductions already passed into law as part of the debt ceiling agreement last year. That is selling the same horse twice.
Transparency favors the honest. Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions, ranking member of the Budget Committee, has demanded that the negotiations be opened to public scrutiny via C-SPAN. Why is Obama balking? What does he not want you to see and hear? King Solomon knew who the real mother was by their different reactions to “splitting the baby.” White House fear of TV cameras tells you who is afraid of the truth getting out.
Of course, if the president’s positions are serious, real, and would gain popular support, Obama would welcome and gain from transparency.
American taxpayers need one other final protection. The final agreement must be put in writing, in actual legislative, legal wording and placed online for every American to read for seven full days. That way we cannot get “TARPed” again. We cannot be fooled as we were in 1990 and 1982 when we were told there were real, large, and permanent spending cuts to accompany small tax hikes. The tax hikes were large, permanent, and painful, while the spending cuts were a fiction. The spending cuts never happened.
If the deal is made in public view and the final small print is available for seven days of public review, then and only then can we be sure that a deal is good policy. And if no deal is reached, we will know who was responsible because we saw it with our own eyes -- not because some talking head on TV told us who to blame.