John Boehner is failing. He’s playing President Obama’s game on President Obama’s court. He’s prosecuting the wrong case. Rather than discussing the terms of the fiscal cliff debate, Speaker Boehner should be talking about why Republicans’ pro-growth tax policies are America’s only hope for a variety of Obama-created ills.
First, Speaker Boehner should highlight the fact that President Clinton’s high tax rates didn’t trigger the great economy. He should remind the nation that it was Newt’s capital gains tax cuts that sent the economy into high gear. Prior to those tax cuts, the economy was doing ok. After cutting the capital gains tax, growth exploded.
Another thing that Speaker Boehner must do is remind people that Republicans’ insisting on balancing the federal budget helped strengthen the dollar, which led to a dramatic shrinking of America’s trade deficit. That especially affected gas prices.
Third, Speaker Boehner should shout from the rooftops that revenues during the Bush tax cuts were significantly bigger than revenues are today. If Speaker Boehner asked President Obama why he’s insisting on anti-growth policies that tamp the economy down rather than implementing new pro-growth policies that strengthen the economy, President Obama might well blow a gasket.
This is the debate we should start. This is the debate President Obama can’t win. This is the conversation that would expose President Obama’s motivation for imposing higher tax rates.
Rather than the pattern of proposal-counterproposal, then a counter offer to the counterproposal, with each side publicly stating that the other side needs to put forth a serious proposal, Speaker Boehner should ditch that pattern, especially the taunting language.
Instead, Speaker Boehner, followed by every Republican in Congress talking with their local newspapers and TV outlets about how cutting spending is what’s fair to taxpayers and how reforming the tax code, highlighted by fewer deductions and lower tax rates, would strengthen the economy.
Highlight the fact that this was the real reason why the economy was strong during the Clinton administration. Highlight the fact that the economy didn’t take off until Newt changed the trajectory of the debate.
President Obama is too arrogant to be frightened by that debate, which means Speaker Boehner should be able to turn this situation into a discussion on getting America’s economy going for the first time during President Obama’s administration.
With expensive utility bills, shrinking paychecks, high gas and grocery prices and unacceptably high unemployment rates, the indictment against President Obama’s mishandling of the economy should be lengthy and powerful.
Finally, he should unleash Paul Ryan. Speaker Boehner should insist on a televised fiscal cliff summit, with Ryan leading the prosecution of the case against President Obama’s reckless spending. Dave Camp should prosecute the case for why the GOP tax reform plan will strengthen the economy.
GOP senators and governors should take part in this summit, too. One tactic President Obama has overplayed is saying that ‘we can talk about that’ on a variety of policies, then dropping that position the minute he’s out of the room. Republicans should tell him that implementing a pro-growth economic plan is non-negotiable.
Finally, make the case that raising the top marginal tax rates won’t affect the Warren Buffetts of the world because their income comes from investments, not wages. Make the case that raising the top marginal tax rates will hurt small businesses, not the evil Wall Street fatcats President Obama always talks about.
President Obama’s policies are failing. Speaker Boehner’s ineptitude in highlighting those failures has the fiscal cliff conversation heading in the wrong direction. It’s time to change the direction of that conversation.