For quite some time, conservatives have been upset with the difficulty of pushing back entitlements. They talk about them as if they are addictions that Americans can't give up (See this earlier post) While I disagree with their analogy, I do agree that it is hard to get rid of popular programs. This is not a short term phenomena, it has been going on for a long time. At the same time, they have repeatedly demonstrated that it is incredibly easy to push through tax cuts. President love to offer them. For some reason, Americans don't enjoy paying taxes. Cutting taxes has been popular since, well back when Greece invented democracy. Greece had this thing when they went to war they created a tax called a eisphora. Then after the war, they canceled the tax. Hm, what a wonderful idea. (Source)
So here is a simple plan for the GOP to follow:
Step 1. Agree to permanent Medicare/Medicaid/Social Security in exchange for tax hikes starting in 4 years. After all, we don't want to disrupt the economy.
Step 2. Complain about the tax hikes, using them as a weapon against Democrats for the next election cycle.
Step 3. After a couple of years (anything less than 4) push through tax cuts that cancel Step 1's tax hikes, but leave the entitlement cuts. For an added level of sneakiness, they could make the tax cuts not quite identical to the original tax hikes. They could even be bigger. These tax cuts cut in immediately, not in 4 years
Net results from this rather simple plan:
- In the next election, the GOP gets two weapons to use against Democrats - in liberal districts they can say "the incumbents sold out Social Security, throw the bums out." In conservative districts they can say "Those tricky Democrats only know how to raise taxes and spend your money."
- They permanently reduce entitlements.
- They have a fake tax hike that never actually happens.
- Some republicans may lose their primary to T-Party idiots too stupid to understand the plan.
- They do run the risk of failing to cancel the tax hikes before they activate. But honestly it is a LOT easier to cut taxes than it is to cut entitlements. It is a worthwhile risk - for a brave politician that cares more about the country than his own job.
- They are cowards. They either care more about their own jobs than they do about what's right for the country, or they are afraid of not gaining a majority in time to kill the tax hikes.
- The GOP doesn't actually want to cut entitlements, they are just using it as a fake rallying cry.
- They have not thought of this rather simple plan. Well, I guess I shouldn't have told them.
- The GOP is too ethical to lie to the Democrats. Wow, that was hard to type. I was laughing so hard I almost couldn't do it.
I am pretty sure the GOP wants to cut entitlements. They know that if we don't raise taxes, than we have to do major cuts somewhere to balance the budget. Aside from Defense, the liberal entitlement programs are pretty much the simplest things to cut. If they weren't so incredibly necessary, we would have cut them already. Despite the GOP rhetoric, America doesn't have a lot of things we can cut. Compared to other countries, we outspend on the military and not much else.
So, as far as I can tell, the Republicans must be cowards. They either are afraid of losing their jobs or of not being in a position to revoke the tax hikes. Either way, it doesn't look good for them.
Half of politics is being brave enough to trick your opponent into a bad compromise. The reason the GOP hates compromise so much is that they keep thinking the Democrats 'win' the compromises. Frankly I think that is just partisan lies to build their bargaining position. The debt crisis is a great example - they pretend they lost when they won - or rather the T Party did. Funny, the GOP seems to relish compromising within their own party.