Are higher taxes inevitable? If they are, Senator Rand Paul wants no Republican fingerprints on them. Last night, he told Greta van Susteren on Fox News that House Republicans should pass a bill with their specific plan to cut spending and fix the tax code to address the fiscal-cliff issues, and dare the Senate to take it up. If Democrats refuse, then Paul wants the House to hold a vote on the Democratic plan, with Republicans voting “present” to allow Democrats to pass the bill. That way, the economic damage from tax hikes will be totally owned by Democrats, and Republicans will have kept their hands clean:
This reminds me of a scene from the otherwise entirely-forgettable film Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins. Wilford Brimley goes over the doomsday scenario of exposure with Fred Ward, which is the suicides of all involved, but then says, “We’re not there yet, boys.” I’m of the same mind; we can see the edge of the cliff from here, but no one’s going to get serious until Friday at the earliest. The legislative language for any deal will need to get written before the House and Senate can take a vote, which means that we’ll have to have a deal in writing by Monday or Tuesday to get the vote in before Christmas, or by Christmas to get it in before New Years Day if Congress stays in session.
If Obama insists on 4:1 tax hikes to cuts and won’t budge, though, this is probably not a bad scenario to follow. I’d amend it to make clear that the debt ceiling isn’t part of the bill, and I would also pass the AMT fix separately in the House with Republican votes. No sense in refusing credit for solving that of the fiscal cliff.