GOP “doomsday” plan: vote “present” on middle-class tax rate extension

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Ed Morrissey @ Hot Air:

I mentioned last week that Republicans had one option to extricate themselves politically from a collapse of the fiscal-cliff talks, which was to just give Obama a House vote on exactly he wants — and then vote “present” to allow it to pass.  ABC’s Jonathan Karl reports that House Republicans are considering a limited version of that option, focusing only on extending the middle-class tax rates and nothing more:

Republicans are seriously considering a Doomsday Plan if fiscal cliff talks collapse entirely.  It’s quite simple:  House Republicans would allow a vote on extending the Bush middle class tax cuts (the bill passed in August by the Senate) and offer the President nothing more:  no extension of the debt ceiling, nothing on unemployment, nothing on closing loopholes.  Congress would recess for the holidays and the president would face a big battle early in the year over the debt ceiling.

Two senior Republican elected officials tell me this doomsday plan is becoming the most likely scenario.  A top GOP House  leadership aide confirms the plan is under consideration, but says Speaker Boehner has made no decision on whether to pursue it.

Under one variation of this Doomsday Plan, House Republicans would allow a vote on extending only the middle class tax cuts and Republicans, to express disapproval at the failure to extend all tax cuts, would vote “present” on the bill, allowing it to pass entirely on Democratic votes.

By doing this, Republicans avoid taking blame for tax increases on 98 percent of income tax payers.  As one senior Republican in Congress told me, “You don’t take a hostage you aren’t willing to shoot.”  Republicans aren’t willing to kill the middle class tax cuts, even if extending them alone will make it harder to later extend tax cuts on the wealthy.

I’m not sure what a “present” vote gains Republicans if they only hold a vote on the tax rates.  I’d assume that the House GOP wants to get some credit for keeping middle-class tax rates at their current level, as well as for the AMT fix that will keep millions of us from falling into the vise of a program originally intended to do what Warren Buffett urges us to do again — demand more money from the rich.  It seems to me that the House GOP can vote to pass this bill tomorrow without explicitly violating their tax pledge, and still use the debt ceiling for another round of fiscal-cliff negotiations.

Of course, the Senate might not pass such a bill without any other issues addressed in it.  That, however, puts the onus on Harry Reid, who would then be seen as the man holding the middle class hostage to get his wish list passed.

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Curt served in the Marine Corps for four years and has been a law enforcement officer in Los Angeles for the last 24 years.

17 Responses to “GOP “doomsday” plan: vote “present” on middle-class tax rate extension”

  1. 1


    A much simpler idea is this:

    Give the Democrats what they want on the tax issue, but also include a removal of the “baseline budgeting” method of budgeting. Removal of that would allow the party in power in the House to fully enact ALL spending measures, as well as require Reid and his Senate to actually submit a budget for vote and approval. It also ensures that the President is fully responsible for the spending contained within the annual budgets. And, as well, it should make the various agencies and departments more fully accountable for the money they spend.

    This is what we truly need. A more fully accountable government to the people, that doesn’t rely on “business as usual” spending increases.

    And the GOP should explain all of this to “We, the People”, and why they are voting for it. Then watch the Democrats squirm, twist, and spin, on why they aren’t going to vote for their own tax “plan”, as I’m sure they won’t when they realize that the federal spending will actually have someone who controls it. Them.

  2. 2

    Nathan Blue

    If the House reps do this, the MSM will just spin it as an Obama win. The average citizen doesn’t know how congress works, so when they read Huffpo it will only read that “Obama stuck to his guns and the Reps capitulated! Yeah Democrats, yeah Obama for “winning” against those backwards, religious, racist, sexist jerks who are to blame for everything wrong in this country!”

    And if the House Reps don’t vote and keep this thing going, well . . . read the above piece of propaganda, but just substitute “boo” for “yeah.”

    No matter what the GOP does, the media will make it out to be their fault, entirely. Obama can do no wrong and the “people” will never turn on him.

  3. 3

    Nan G

    Frankly, I was amazed that the Republicans hadn’t done that same thing when the whole sequestration-thing-y came up for a vote.
    Voting ”present” got Obama to where he is today.
    Others really ought to use that same technique against him.

  4. 4


    As an addition to the above, baseline budgeting, for those who don’t understand it, is what allows the Democrats to continue spouting off about Republicans wanting to “cut funding” for programs, when the reality is that only cuts in the increase of the spending are what Republicans are talking about.

    Remove this talking point, and the Democrats will be forced to support their desire for increased funding above and beyond what the Republicans lay out.

    As an example, let’s say that a government program’s budget for this year is $100 Billion. Using baseline budgeting, the forecast for that program for the next year is $100 Billion PLUS the addition of the inflation rate times that $100 B PLUS the addition of the population growth times that $100 B. If the inflation rate is 2.5% and the population growth rate is 1%, then the next year’s funding requirement for that program is assumed to be $103-104 Billion. Now, if the Republicans talk about holding the line on spending for that program to the previous year’s spending, the Democrats automatically talk about “spending cuts” for the program and bring out some sob story to support their notion of increasing the funding.

    Remove the projected budgetary allowances, or required funding for baseline budget programs, and the Democrats lose a talking point. It also, as I stated above, allows for the discussion of a particular program’s effectiveness verses the money spent on it, without the cries of the Democrats about cutting spending overwhelming the important aspects of the issue.

    Just a thought.

  5. 6

    Nan G

    Townhall points out that 36 of Obama’s own aides owe a total of $833,970 in back taxes.
    At Obama’s EPA 413 people owe more than $19 million.
    At the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. 185 employees owe more than $3 million.
    Capitol Hill employees owed $9.3 million in overdue taxes.
    In fact federal workers nationwide owe $1 billion!

    Some Republican members are pushing for the firings of government workers who owe the IRS.

  6. 7



    Give the Democrats what they want on the tax issue, but also include a removal of the “baseline budgeting” method of budgeting.

    That is the best idea I’ve heard so far.

  7. 8

    Hard Right

    When I find myself in times of trouble
    Mr. Regan makes a return
    Speaking words of wisdom, let it burn
    And in my hour of darkness
    His spirit refuses to adjourn
    Speaking words of wisdom, let it burn
    Let it burn, let it burn
    Let it burn, let it burn
    Whipser words of wisdom, let it burn

    And when the liberal morons
    Finally show some concern
    There will be an answer, let it burn
    For tho they are retarded
    There is still a chance they’ll learn
    There will be an answer, let it burn
    Let it burn, let it burn
    Let it burn, let it burn
    There will be an answer, let it burn
    Let it burn, let it burn
    Let it burn, let it burn
    Whipser words of wisdom, let it burn

  8. 9

    Hard Right

    Oh the economy is frightful
    But obama is so delightful
    The voters show no concern
    Let it burn, let it burn, let it burn
    It doesn’t show signs of stopping
    U.S. credit rating dropping
    See the money presses churn
    Let it burn, let it burn, let it burn
    U.S. debt climbs way out of sight
    High unemployment the new norm
    Poverty will grip us so tight
    We’ll burn our pets to stay warm
    Nation is slowly dying
    Brainless sheep are multiplying
    Sanity they like to spurn
    Let it burn, let it burn, let it burn

  9. 11


    The Republicans are on sound economic ground by insisting on not increasing the marginal tax rates. If they are looking for more revenue, then consider that tax-exempt Foundations hold about 4% of the GDP in investments. However, in order to retain their tax-exempt status, they only have to give away 5% of their assets each year.

    Because a competent portfolio manager can normally earn more than 5%, tax-exempt Foundations effectively have eternal life. Foundations have self-appointing Boards, they don’t have any customers who can boycott to object to a policy, and they don’t have shareholders who can vote to oust the CEO.

    If we do not restore mortality to foundations, we will have the Tides, Ford and Soros foundations with us forever.

    The way to bring these foundations to an end, is to force them to be mortal. That is easily done by boosting the payout requirement from 5% to something like 7.5%. In the short run, this will boost the funding these foundations do by quite a bit, but judging from the current mood of the voters, the Republic can stand how that may help the left. In the long run, the Republic will benefit even more. Besides, in this time of tight budgets, can we afford to give wealthy foundations a tax exemption? I notice the left wants to tax away the wealth of those who are productive in society. Rather, I propose that we boost our economy by forcing wealthy foundations to push more wealth out into the economy, where eventually it will boost tax revenues.

  10. 12


    For those of y0u who know how to PhotoShop, I see a vehicle with obama driving, and Uncle Sam as a passenger, going over a cliff. Who does that remind me of?

  11. 13



    The last figure I saw for 2012 was an estimated $3.25 Trillion non-interest budget. Of that, nearly 40%, or $1.3 Trillion, is slated for Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid programs. Most of that $1.3 Trillion is likely to be paid benefits to the eligible, but much is also engaged in the administration of those programs, and hence is subject to “baseline budgeting” considerations. Defense is only around $660 Billion, with a small part of that allocated to baseline budgeting considerations.

    Therefore, a conservative estimate of the total federal budget susceptible to “baseline budgeting” is probably around $2.25 Trillion. When we have that amount of the budget that Democrats can use, with the baseline budget futures projections from the CBO, to scare people with and bludgeon the attempts at serious spending overhauls by the Republicans, we see how our budget continues to grow, and grow, and grow, with nothing ever done about it.

    Take away that crutch that the Democrats use to “protect” their spending, and they are left with arguing for the continued funding of their pet programs based on factual evidence, instead of demagoguery.

    And, with control of the House, the Republicans can force the Senate to actually pass a budget, if they want their “pet” programs continue to receive funding. At that point, the Democrats can be painted accurately as the tax and spend monsters that they really are.

  12. 14


    @johngalt: #13
    Social Security was originally meant ONLY for those who pay into it. One way to save it is to ask your politicians to put it back into a separate interest drawing account like it was when it was created. I am afraid that it won’t do any good, since the politicians can get more votes by giving YOUR SS money to others, than they can from SS recipients, but please give it a try.

  13. 15

    Hard Right

    The dems/liberals are more interested in political gain than helping the country and the little guy. They are getting what they want, but they refuse to take yes for an answer.
    Proof that the dems care about power and control at any cost to the people they pretend to care about.

  14. 16


    I’ve read that even the Stimulus Act is now part of baseline budgeting because Congress hasn’t passed a budget. That’s the main reason Harry doesn’t want the Senate to pass one. The continuing resolutions keep stimulus money flowing.
    Republicans in Congress are completely inept. One of the promises they need to secure in the fiscal cliff talks is a budget from the Senate. That alone could save billions if not trillions. They should also move to end baseline budgeting. The problem is, I don’t think they want to end it any more the democrats want to end it.

  15. 17



    Only a portion, albeit a pretty big portion, of the Stimulus was legislated into the “baseline budget”. This, after it was sold to the American people that it was a “one-time” boost by the federal government to the economy. It was designed, more than anything, to contain more giveaways to the liberal/progressive supporters of Obama and the Democrats.

    As for the Republicans, I believe you are correct on that. The Establishment Republicans don’t seem to want to curb spending any more than Obama and the Democrats do. That’s why they will never get rid of the baseline budgeting method. And it’s why they lose constantly to the Democrats in the court of public opinion on spending.

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