In his most recent column for The Weekly Standard, conservative intellectual William Kristol took on The Wall Street Journel‘s editorial page, which called for the GOP to refuse higher taxes on the wealthy.
The Wall Street Journal editors are unhappy about the present correlation of political forces. Who isn’t? They’re also, I gather, unhappy about “Beltway sages” who, facing the fact that the Bush tax cuts expire at the end of this year, have suggested Republicans accept a modest increase in tax rates for the wealthy while leading the charge to keep taxes from rising for 98 percent of the American people.It would be great if the Journal editors had a better idea of what Republicans could do. They don’t….…It’s true that “Mr. Obama also can’t get what he wants without House Republicans. He needs their votes to extend current rates for lower-income taxpayers, as well as to prevent the Alternative Minimum Tax from hitting 27 million more taxpayers.” But think for a minute about the implications of what the Journal seems to be saying. The Journal editors believe that after January 1, when taxes will have gone up for everyone, House Republicans will block Democratic legislation that would cut taxes—that would restore the lower 2012 rates for the vast majority of taxpayers, fix the Alternative Minimum Tax, and for that matter would probably offer a compromise on dividends and the death tax better than what will be the new dividend rate of 39 percent and death tax of 55 percent with a $1 million exemption.
Will Republicans really oppose such legislation? President Obama will be beating the drums for this tax cut. Senate Democrats will pass this tax cut. If Senate Republicans vote against it, it won’t be “Senate Democrats running for re-election in 2014” who will have a tax hike on their resumes. It will be Senate Republicans who will have voted against cutting taxes. And if House Republicans block such legislation, it will be they, and they alone, insisting on higher taxes.