Friday, 10 September 2010

Boehner Proposes Tax and Spending Freeze

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John Boehner, Republican Minority House Leader and very possibly the next Speaker of the House, called Wednesday for a freeze on all current federal tax rates, including those adopted as the Bush tax cuts.

There is nothing that Boehner can do to prevent those tax cuts from lapsing, other than putting political pressure on President Obama and the Democrats to adopt the tax cuts as permanent cuts or to pay a political price for allowing those tax cuts to end. There is, however, a great deal that Speaker Boehner could do to prevent any additional tax hikes while he held the second most powerful political office in the nation.

Boehner has also proposed returning federal spending to 2008 levels, before the explosion of federal spending intended to “bail out” failing financial institutions and to “stimulate” the economy. The American people increasingly feel that stimulus spending has done more harm than good and, indeed, done little good at all. Obama’s recent visit to an automobile manufacturing plant is an excellent example of that. Although, on paper, some jobs may have been saved with federal spending, the economy of the region seems to be in freefall. Housing prices are dropping and unemployment is approaching Depression levels (the last time a President tried to “spend” America into prosperity.)

Obama, curiously, has chosen to personify the Republican Party opposition with Representative Boehner and to do so in Boehner’s home state of Ohio. Most Americans have not formed strong opinions about the House Minority Leader, who historically has been a “below the radar” political leader. Choosing to attack Boehner in Ohio is also curious. Republicans appear poised to make big gains in the Buckeye State, with a sweep of gubernatorial, Senate, House, and state elective offices possible. Ohioans are the sort of Americans typified in Obama’s comments made public about Americans clinging to their guns and their religion. Aside from the social divide between Obama and Ohioans, the economy of Ohio is one of the worst in the nation. Many industrial jobs have left America for Mexico and other nations with less regulation and lower wages.? Draconian environmental regulations have also dealt a body blow to Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia particularly hard.? Ohioans also look west to Indiana and see a state government that behaves more responsibly that Ohio state officials have.

Governor Daniels in Indiana is a state chief executive who can point to actual progress in rationalizing and reducing state spending. Governor Christie of New Jersey, who has fearlessly confronted public employees unions who are destroying the fiscal basis of New Jersey government, is another Governor who is actually doing something that will improve New Jersey in the future. Yet President Obama has not gone into Indiana to tell Indianans how much better his executive plans are than Mitch Daniels' plans, nor has he gone into New Jersey warning that the state chief executive, Governor Christie, is wrong to face down unions — even though Obama has placated union demands over and over.

What Representative Boehner proposes is a good idea. Freezing federal tax rates and rolling back federal spending, if the political will is there to do that, will restore confidence and encourage businesses to begin investment and expansion.? If President Obama wanted to do what Boehner proposes, it would be very easy for him to do that — many Democrats and nearly all Republicans would support him. Instead, it is obvious, the President simply wants the old statist “soak the rich” socialism. But what he is selling, more and more Americans are not buying.

Photo of John Boehner: AP Images
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