President Obama says he wants to raise taxes on the wealthy. But what he really wants is to avoid spending cuts. By blaming the Republicans for refusing to increase revenues from the rich (who are also the nation's leading employers), he can avoid having a straight-out fight over the size of government spending a battle he must lose and look bad fighting.
House Speaker John Boehner was wise to offer to raise taxes on those making a million or more. It showed the country that the Republicans were not as intransigent on raising taxes as the Democrats were in opposing spending cuts.
The best move here is for Boehner to say that he will lower the threshold on tax increases if Obama comes up to an equivalent sum in spending cuts, largely in entitlement programs. By taking taxes off the table in the talks, the Republicans can focus attention where it belongs on Obama's refusal to cut spending.
In political terms, the public breaks about 50-50 on raising taxes on the wealthy. But it is in favor of spending cuts by over 80%. Republicans let Obama dodge the spending issue by fighting him on taxes.
Look at this from the long term. The economy is going to go into a tailspin. The very tax hikes Obama is demanding will assure that. But we all remember how Obama was able to deflect enough of the blame for our current difficulties onto the Republicans because they wouldn't pass his phony "jobs" legislation last year. Now he's about to play the same game over tax hikes for the wealthy.
Take the tax issue off the table and Americans will see the real game going on here: Obama's commitment to deficit spending which is driving the economy into ruin. No longer will he be able to avoid the blame for the coming economic collapse because he will have had his way on taxes.
Politically, if the Republicans agree on a tax increase but demand spending cuts in return and Obama refuses to come across with spending reductions (which he will) then the blame will fall squarely on the president for the ensuing economic breakdown.
Call Obama's bluff! Make him face up to the need to cut spending and show Americans how he won't do it.