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Charles Krauthammer's op-ed column on Obama and the fiscal cliff.
Such nonsense abounds because Obama's objective in these negotiations is not economic but political: not to solve the debt crisis but to fracture the Republican majority in the House. Get Boehner to cave, pass the tax hike with Democratic votes provided by Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, and let the Republican civil war begin.
It doesn't even matter whether Boehner gets deposed as speaker. Either way, the Republican House would be neutered, giving Obama a free hand to dominate Washington and fashion the entitlement state of his liking.
This is partisan zero-sum politics. Nothing more. Obama has never shown interest in genuine debt reduction. He does nothing for two years, then spends the next two ignoring his own debt-reduction commission. In less than four years, he has increased U.S. public debt by a staggering 83 percent.
Obama has never once publicly suggested a structural cut in entitlements. On the contrary, he created an entirely new entitlement--Obamacare--that, according to the CBO, will increase spending by $1.7 trillion.
What's he thinking? Doesn't Obama see looming ahead the real economic cliff--a European-like collapse under the burden of unsustainable debt? Perhaps, but he wants to complete his avowedly transformational social-democratic agenda first, and let his successors--likely Republican--act as tax collectors on the middle class (where the real money is) and takers of subsidies from the mouths of babes.
Or possibly Obama will get fiscal religion and undertake tax and entitlement reform in his second term--but only after having destroyed the Republican opposition so that he can carry out the reformation on his own ideological terms.
What should Republicans do? Stop giving stuff away. If Obama remains intransigent, let him be the one to take us over the cliff. And then let the new House, which is sworn in weeks before the president, immediately introduce and pass a full across-the-board restoration of the Bush tax cuts.
Obama will counter with the usual all-but-the-rich tax cut--as the markets gyrate and the economy begins to wobble under his feet.
Result? We're back to square one, but with a more level playing field. The risk to Obama will be rising and the debt ceiling will be looming. Most important of all, however, Republicans will still be in possession of their unity, their self-respect--and their trousers.
Charles Krauthammer is a columnist