Memo to Speaker Boehner: How to Handle the President’s Demand for Tax-Rate Extensions
This note is a citizen’s recommendation on how best to respond to President Obama’s latest ploy on extending tax rates for the “middle class” but not “the rich.” It begins with a metaphor.
I’m not a martial arts expert or even an aficionado. But there is a soft form of martial arts that adroitly uses an opponent’s force and strength against him by deliberately giving in to that force, and then gracefully turning it back on him. It is not intended to do much damage to the attacker, although it sometimes will if the attacker is clumsy. Instead it is meant to frustrate, confuse, and embarrass the attacker, making him wish he’d never made his move in the first place. One version of this soft martial arts form is called Aikido.
As Speaker, I know you would like to extend current federal income tax rates for everyone, rather than have them rise automatically in January. President Obama wants that extension, which he calls a “tax cut”, only for those couples/singles with incomes below $250,000/$200,000, leaving those whom he calls “the rich” to pay a substantial increase. He has proclaimed he’ll sign such a bill immediately. This is his latest demagogic ploy, used in several of his “make-the-rich-pay-their-fair-share” campaign speeches.
Now, if you directly oppose the President, holding out for an “all or nothing” extension of current tax rates for everybody, a predictable brouhaha will surely follow. The President will excoriate “cruel” and “selfish” Republicans who want to deny the extension to America’s middle-class working families. He will exploit that talking point all the way to the election, and it should appeal to the more than ~97% of taxpayers who have incomes below the $250,000/$200,000 limit. Pretty slick, no? And he’s counting on you and the Republican House to oppose him.
However, instead of opposing the President, you and the House could follow the way of Aikido, via these steps:
- Accept the President’s deal, moving it quickly through Congress to the President.
- Publicly urge the President sign it immediately, as he promised he would.
- Be there at the President’s side for the usual signing photo op.
- Promptly draft another bill to extend the current rates for all Americans.
- Present this bill at your own press conference and forcefully say to all Americans:
There are ~ 3 million of your fellow Americans who still face a huge tax increase on Dec 31.
Among these taxpayers are the current and future employers of you and your children.
Ask yourself: will a tax increase on these employers make it more likely or less likely:
- That they will be able to give you a bonus, raise, or promotion?
- That they will be able to offer you continued or improved benefits?
- That they will be able to buy new equipment and hire more employees?
- That they will find customers and other businesses that can buy their products?
- That they will expand their product line, creating new positions and new jobs?
- That they will be able to compete with foreign companies?
- That they will be able to avoid outsourcing your job?
- That they will be able to keep you on the payroll in a downturn?
If you agree with me that it’s in your family’s best interests that these employers get the same tax rate extension that you just did, then join with me in demanding that the President and Harry Reid support the bill I hold in my hands, and let’s get it done!
In a virtual Aikido maneuver, this approach:
- gives in to Obama’s initial move, turning it back on him,
- denies him the propaganda ploy he desperately needs for his campaign,
- pushes back on the neo-Marxist, rich/poor class distinction Obama has cultivated since his election,
- gives Republican candidates their own solid campaign talking point about unity and capitalism,
- appeals directly to the interests of the 97% to help the 3% that are their employers.
What do you think, Mr. Speaker? Do we respond as Obama, Axelrod, and Plouffe hope and expect? Or do we exploit their maneuver to the advantage of all Americans?