Voting for “plan B” would not violate the pledge

In the fiscal cliff negotiations, President Obama wants to renew the Bush tax cuts for everyone except those who make $250,000.  House Speaker Boehner, in what he is calling his “plan B,” is saying that Republicans would be willing to let taxes go up for people making $1 million and more.  (He may be hoping to split the difference with a proposal once made by former House Speaker Pelosi to put the cut-off at $400,000.)

Interestingly, Grover Norquist at Americans for Tax Reform, which has been collecting pledges from Republican lawmakers that they would never vote for new taxes, is saying that a vote for plan B would not violate the pledge, presumably because the vote would be to renew the tax cuts and that letting some tax cuts expire is not the same as actively voting to raise taxes.  (But wouldn’t that logic apply to the $250,000 level also?)  Here is the ATR statement:

“Republicans supporting this bill are this week affirming to their constituents in writing that this bill — the sole purpose of which is to prevent tax increases — is consistent with the pledge they made to them. In ATR’s analysis, it is extremely difficult — if not impossible — to fault these Republicans’ assertion,” reads the statement posted on ATR’s website Wednesday morning.

“In particular, in this Congress the House has already voted twice to prevent any tax increases on any American,” the statement continues. “When viewed with this in mind, and considering this tax bill contains no tax increases of any kind — in fact, it permanently prevents them — matters become more clear. Having finally seen actual legislation in writing, ATR is now able to make its determination about a legislative proposal related to the fiscal cliff. ATR will not consider a vote for this measure a violation of the Taxpayer Protection Pledge.”

via Conservative groups, but not ATR, line up against ‘Plan B’ | The Daily Caller.

Nevertheless, other conservative groups are rejecting Plan B, and President Obama and congressional Democrats are still holding firm for the $250,000 cut-off.

Would those numbers matter to you in your support for a fiscal cliff bill?  Does the new Norquist logic make sense, or is it mere casuistry to give lawmakers a cover to break their promises?  Is letting some Americans’ taxes go up preferable to making all Americans’ taxes go up, which is what would happen on January 1 if no legislation gets passed?

UPDATE:  Boehner put his plan before Congress, but it was shot down, as even Republicans failed to support it.

 

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • DonS

    I don’t think Obama is holding firm to $250,000 anymore. He is willing to move to $400,000.

    The fact is that the tax increases on all income levels are enshrined in law. Apparently, the logic of some is that if Republicans vote to make all current tax rates permanent on everyone making less than $1 million, but allow the scheduled rate increase to take effect for those making $1 million or more, before January 1 (as Plan B called for), that is a tax increase. If the vote occurs after January 1, when the new rates are in effect, that is a tax cut. Norquist says that’s crazy logic, and he is right, but some in Obama’s camp have already said that they intend to pursue that attack on Republicans, accusing them of voting for a tax increase, and some Republicans are concerned enough about that so that they want to wait until after January 1.

    Silliness, of course. But it’s also politics. So, it looks as if we go over the cliff, and then hopefully have some sort of retroactive fix that at least restores most of the current tax rates and reduces spending at least somewhat. Then, hopefully, at some point the debt limit will force some sort of intelligent conversation about what we are doing to our kids. But, I’m sure that is asking too much.

  • DonS

    I don’t think Obama is holding firm to $250,000 anymore. He is willing to move to $400,000.

    The fact is that the tax increases on all income levels are enshrined in law. Apparently, the logic of some is that if Republicans vote to make all current tax rates permanent on everyone making less than $1 million, but allow the scheduled rate increase to take effect for those making $1 million or more, before January 1 (as Plan B called for), that is a tax increase. If the vote occurs after January 1, when the new rates are in effect, that is a tax cut. Norquist says that’s crazy logic, and he is right, but some in Obama’s camp have already said that they intend to pursue that attack on Republicans, accusing them of voting for a tax increase, and some Republicans are concerned enough about that so that they want to wait until after January 1.

    Silliness, of course. But it’s also politics. So, it looks as if we go over the cliff, and then hopefully have some sort of retroactive fix that at least restores most of the current tax rates and reduces spending at least somewhat. Then, hopefully, at some point the debt limit will force some sort of intelligent conversation about what we are doing to our kids. But, I’m sure that is asking too much.

  • helen

    “Plan B” is an abortifacient.

    The Bush tax cuts should never have happened.
    Neither should the Bush wars.

    But I’m repeating myself.

  • helen

    “Plan B” is an abortifacient.

    The Bush tax cuts should never have happened.
    Neither should the Bush wars.

    But I’m repeating myself.


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