Good for Senator Johnny Isakson for speaking some plain truths yesterday. His calls for a fiscal deal to prevent a hard fiscal landing in 2013 were echoed by fellow Republican Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson.
From Search for Way Through Fiscal Impasse Turns to the Senate in the NYT:
Mrs. Hutchison, appearing on the CBS program “Face the Nation,” said the tax cuts signed into law by President George W. Bush should be extended “at a reasonable salary level.”
“We can’t let taxes go up on working people in this country,” she said, backing Mr. Obama’s calls for a stripped-down temporary measure. “It is going to be a patch because, in four days, we can’t solve everything.” [...]
The hope is that the less polarized Senate will be different from the House. It is run by Democrats and includes several Republicans who are openly backing a deal.
“The president’s statement is right,” Mr. Isakson said Sunday on the ABC program “This Week.” “No one wants taxes to go up on the middle class. I don’t want them to go up on anybody, but I’m not in the majority in the United States Senate, and he’s the president of the United States.”
“The truth of the matter is, if we do fall off the cliff after the president is inaugurated, he’ll come back, propose just what he proposed yesterday in leaving Washington, and we’ll end up adopting it,” Mr. Isakson continued. “But why should we put the markets in such turmoil and the people in such misunderstanding or lack of confidence? Why not go ahead and act now?”
There’s a really broad agreement across the nation and in Washington that taxes should not go up right now for 98 or 99 percent of Americans. That’s almost certainly not the best course for long term fiscal policy (middle class Americans are eventually going to have to pay for the level of government they want), but there are some politically achievable moves that will forestall the potential recessionary effects of too much austerity too soon.
It makes political sense for some Republicans to want us to go past the “deadline” so that then any bill they pass is entirely a tax cut.
But Isakson is right: Why create such turmoil and damage Americans’ confidence in the political system even more?
By not taking deals, Republicans in Congress have effectively been backing themselves into corners. Check out Ezra Klein’s Obama’s “small deal” could lead to bigger tax increases, with the tagline: “We now know Boehner regrets rejecting Obama’s 2011 deal. He’s going to regret rejecting his 2012 deal, too.”