They say a good negotiation is one that leaves both sides unhappy, so maybe we should take the news that two high-profile political figures are willing to step outside party lines as a good sign that we’re on our way towards bipartisan agreement regarding the soon-to-expire Bush tax cuts.
First, former President Bill Clinton – long portrayed as the embodiment of the “tax and spend” Democrat — recently urged President Obama to extend the Bush tax cuts for all taxpayers, not just those earning less than $250,000 as has been proposed by the President. In Clinton’s view, this would buy Congress time to focus their efforts on deficit reduction rather than haggling over tax issues.
Clinton “does not believe the tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans should be extended again,” [Clinton's spokesman Matt] McKenna said yesterday. The former president “simply said that he doubted that a long-term agreement on spending cuts and revenues would be reached until after the election.”
Clinton, who appeared with Obama at fundraising events in New York June 4, said in an interview broadcast yesterday on CNBC that Congress “will probably have to put everything off until early next year” because of Republican demands that the tax cuts for the wealthy be made permanent. Doing so would be “an error,” he said.
“What I think we need to do is to find some way to avoid the fiscal cliff, to avoid doing anything that would contract the economy now and then deal with what’s necessary in the long- term debt reduction plan as soon as they can, which presumably will be after the election,” Clinton said.
Much has been made recently of this so-called “fiscal cliff,” and while details regarding the cliff are spotty at best, I was able to locate the following artist’s rendition of the future of America should the expected combination of tax increases and spending cuts be permitted to occur at year-end:
In similarly disillusioning fashion, former Florida Governor and member of the “first family of Republicans” Jeb Bush said he would back tax increases if it meant cutting the deficit, an admission that ruffled feathers within the Republican party and likely left Rush Limbaugh reaching for the percosets.
Also from Bloomberg:
The brother of former President George W. Bush told a congressional panel in Washington today that he could back a theoretical deficit-reduction package that would include $1 in tax increases for every $10 in spending cuts.
“If you could bring to me a majority of people to say that we’re going to have $10 in spending cuts for $1 of revenue enhancement — put me in, coach,” Bush told the House Budget Committee. “This will prove I’m not running for anything,” he said, prompting laughter from lawmakers and the audience.
All joking aside, it’s refreshing to see two political figures widely viewed as strict adherents to their respective party policies recognize that compromise is going to be necessary if we intend to avoid becoming the largest province in the Chinese empire. Whether the President and Congress are taking notes remains to be seen.
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