Some Wisdom From Fred Barnes

In 1995, Fred Barnes, William Kristol and John Podhoretz formed the Weekly Standard. Fred Barnes is also a regular commentator on Fox News, and has also written for numerous publications, including Reader’s Digest, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Spectator, Washingtonian, The Public Interest, Policy Review and both The Sunday Telegraph and Sunday Times of London.

In the December 10 issue of The Weekly Standard, Fred Barnes posts an article entitled, “Don’t Go Wobbly.” The article reminds us that although President Obama won the election, he did not win a mandate. He won by waging one of the most negative campaigns in American history.

The article reminds us:

House speaker John Boehner has rejected the president’s proposal as unserious. Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell broke into laughter when Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner outlined it for him. It’s a wonder even Geithner kept a straight face. Because what the president wants is the same-old same-old: tax hikes immediately, spending cuts down the road. We know how this plays out. Taxes go up, spending cuts never materialize. Obama is also seeking a new $50 billion stimulus. And there’s more. Obama wants to raise the debt limit without the approval of Congress and force banks to refinance troubled home mortgages.

Giving President Obama the ability to raise the debt limit without the consent of Congress is like giving your fifteen year old a credit card with no credit limit. Most grownups don’t have the restraint to handle a credit card without a credit limit–that is why banks set credit limits. Shouldn’t our government be as smart as banks?

The article cites some of the areas of reform that President Obama has asked the Republicans to agree to. These areas include tax rate increases on the wealthy, then limiting tax deductions on the wealthy in the coming year. This represents a serious increase in the expenses of small businesses and will prevent new hiring by small businesses. The President is proposing Medicare cuts–the Republicans need to ask for Medicare reform–not cuts. If we continue to cut the rate at which hospitals are reimbursed for Medicare patients, hospitals will stop admitting Medicare patients.

The article has two good suggestions for Republicans involved in this debate:

To strengthen their hand, Republicans would be smart to stress two things. One is the Simpson-Bowles commission’s strategy for handling the debt and deficit crisis. The Obama-created commission said uncontrolled spending is the cause of the problem, that the best way to gain more revenue is through tax reform, and that any deal must be bipartisan. Republicans agree and should say so loudly. Obama doesn’t agree.

The other is the prospect of a recession. The fiscal cliff is really a tax cliff. Taxes would instantly soar by $400 billion on January 1 and, according to the CBO, would drive the economy back into recession. So might the tax increase of $1.6 trillion advocated by Obama, in addition to higher taxes to finance his health care law that begin next year. Surely the president understands this.

Just as an afterthought–I am willing to go back to the tax rates of the Clinton era as long as we also go back to the spending levels of the Clinton era.

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