THE BLOG

Our Time to Say "NO"

11/30/2010 03:27 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

The Republicans understand "no." They have been living on "no" for years, but in the past Congress they have made it their mantra. One phrase units them: no new taxes. Whether it's the established leadership, Boehner, McConnell, Gingrich, McCain, all agree: no new taxes. The new Tea Party leadership, Jim DeMint, Rand Paul, and Sarah Palin, are nourished by the idea and phrase, "no new taxes."

Democrats in the meantime are talking about the several possibilities of cuts in entitlements, cuts in spending, an extension of some of the Bush tax cuts, perhaps some not others, and down the road, some new taxes to offset other adjustments. The "lamestream" media engages in similar speculation. The deficit commission will come up with a plan with spending cuts and some new taxes.

Apparently they did not hear. The new House of Representatives has a Republican majority and that majority is committed to no new taxes.

Will concessions produce a tax compromise? No. David Brooks did hear. In his New York Times column of November 24 he wrote:

Some Republicans have been talking honestly about cutting entitlement spending, but almost no Republican seems willing to accept tax increases as part of a bipartisan budget deal. You could offer Republicans a deal that was 80 percent spending cuts and 20 percent tax increases and they'd say no. They'd say no to 90-10, too.

So its time for the Democrats and the president to start saying "no." No, there will be no reduction of taxes. No, there will be no extension of the Bush tax cuts. Should the President sit down with the Republicans to discuss it? How long does it take to say "no"? Do it sitting if you would like. Say it standing: "no." Practice, really, "no." Does it feel good? Perhaps not, but there is no alternative.

Oh, yes, the President can say tax cuts for the bottom 98 percent (in fact cutting the rate on the first $250,000 of income gives relief to 100 percent of taxpayers), but no extension for income above that. But he must be clear: any extensions for the upper two percent are out.

David Stockman, the one Republican who has not minced words about the Republican hypocrisy and profligacy, argued on the Fareed Zakaria GPS, Sunday November, that there is no reason to extend tax cuts for the upper two percent. "The President," he stated, "must stare down the Republicans" and commit to veto any bill than extends those reduced upper rates. The president, he said, must say "no." Without such leadership we are doomed.

The Republicans do NOT understand anything other than no. The Republicans do not care about the careful parsing of Olbermann, Maddow, Maher or Stewart. These folks might as well be speaking in French. The Republicans understand "no." Every other expression is mere static. No means no. That they understand.

There is broad agreement that to meet our future needs (wars, entitlements, increasing medical and pension requirements), taxes will have to be raised. Ok, but understand that this will not happen no matter what, as long as the Republicans control one body of Congress.

Similiar postions have been taken today, November 29) in the Huffington Post by Robert Kuttner (Backbone Please) and by former Republican Senator John Danforth (Republicans may be beyond redemption)

As Stockman and many others have said, we have been on a 30- year binge. The country has been spoiled to date by cheap money, spending to stimulate the economy and ever lower taxes. The country and the Republicans say they are worried about the deficit. Good. No to the extension of the Bush tax cuts. Deficit hawks do not lower taxes.

Could the resulting tax increases lead to a deflationary cycle? It is unlikely that a tax increase alone will do this, but, no matter, this is the cost for reestablishing the authority of the majority party and the presidency. And if "no" leads to taxes increases? Explain: the Republicans pledge of no new taxes ever makes cutting taxes now irresponsible and dangerous for long term economic viability. The Republican "no" has caused tax increases.

Mr. President, this is your Munich moment. Appeasement will not work. You have tried it over the past two years and the past month. It may get you through this crisis, but the next one will be worse. If the Republicans win this battle, they will follow in the future with more demands and further "no's." Reduced revenues and the prospects of continuing reduced revenues will force very serious cuts in entitlements.

There is no reason for optimism. The president has reached out for two years. The Democrats leaned over backward to get any support on the Health Bill. Concessions were followed by allegations of death panels. The president after this November's fiasco invited the Republicans to the White House. They were too busy. They said "no." Surprise? Get it? It is our time to say no!