In the stalemated national fight over federal taxes and the budget, the President has Republicans boxed in at the moment: If they don’t cry uncle on higher tax rates for the rich and the country goes off “the cliff” – it’s likely Republicans will get blamed the most. So, what can they do? Two Ohio Republicans grappled with that question on this morning’s Sound of Ideas program. ideastream's Nick Castele reports.
George Voinovich is, you might say, an elder statesman of the Ohio Republican Party. But the former Senator’s cool was tested when a caller accused him of opposing raising taxes on the rich.
VOINOVICH: “No we’re not saying we won’t tax the rich, you heard me, that we need to raise the taxes on the rich!”
Somehow that message is just not getting through. Maybe because for most Republicans now in Congress it’s a new, post-election tune. A poll released this week by the Pew Research Center finds that twice as many Americans will blame Republicans if Washington fails to reach a deal.
President Obama’s focus is on extending Bush era tax cuts for the middle class, but not for the rich -- and do it now. Some Republicans are there -- like Maine’s Olympia Snowe. Others may be willing but with caveats. Congressman Steve LaTourette said they talked about it this week.
LATOURETTE: “There's a growing sentiment among House Republicans that OK, you know what? If the president wants to do this thing with revenues and taxes, OK. But the second shoe has to be -- you have to have a pair of shoes.”
The second shoe would be changes in Medicare, Social Security and other entitlement programs to reduce the deficit. The president says that can be handled later -- after the tax rates are re-set for the rich.
Optimists see all this as “budgetary foreplay” before the two sides get down to the real negotiating.