Time to call the Democrats’ bluff on debt deal

Vice President Biden’s bicameral, bipartisan talks went into the ditch early yesterday when House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (Va.) and Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl (Ariz.) — the top Republicans in the negotiations — walked out over a deal that would ultimately involve Republicans agreeing to tax hikes.

A lot of progress had been made theretofore, and Republicans sort of knew when the question would come around to tax hikes to help eat into the nation’s massive debt, it would be gut-check time. Republicans have a great argument — this is absolutely the worst time to be raising taxes, on anyone. If you don’t believe there is a ripple effect, just ask the White House why it decided to release millions of gallons of crude from the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserves. It knows that even the slightest bit of relief at any consumer outlet — the pump, the grocery store, even from the taxman — has to be a good thing.

So Democrats know they’re playing with a new third rail of American politics — tax hikes. And it looks like they don’t want to be electrocuted.

By the same token, we must get a deal. We must begin to eat away at this country’s debt.

So here’s what I propose. We all know the Democrats aren’t truly serious about cutting spending, especially not on their Holy Grails of Social Security and Medicare, even though that’s where the most revenue can and should come.

So call their bluffs. Republicans should go ahead and say they are open to revenue raisers of some sort, but ONLY to the point that the amount of cuts is in direct proportion to the amount that spending ultimately contributed to the national debt. In other words, if the debt totals were the result of eight parts spending, and one part tax relief of the past, then suspend for the time being the fact that tax cuts actually SPUR the economy and mandate one thing: Democrats must agree they will cut eight dollars in spending from the debt for every one dollar they seek to raise in taxes.

I personally believe the ratio is more like 15:1 or even 35:1, but that’s not the point.

There’s no way Democrats will agree to such a deal, so call their bluff on the tax hikes. Because if Republicans don’t, they’ll be susceptible to charges such as the one Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) made today that the GOP isn’t really serious about trimming the debt — a classic (yet lame) line used often in this town.

Republicans win either way — we either step closer to ending this constricting debt or Democrats end up looking like fools because they can’t kick the spending addiction they’ve come to love through the decades.

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