“My View” from the Nov. 9, 2012, edition of “Viewpoint with Eliot Spitzer”
Elections have consequences, though sometimes you have to peel back a few layers of the onion to see them. Even though control of the White House, the Senate and the House remain the same, the dynamic in current negotiations among them has been turned on its head. Hence the manifest desire on the part of Republicans to reach an accord on immigration reform.
Someone in the Republican Party must have finally taken note of the fact that Latinos do indeed cast votes. And that’s good news for probably everybody — well, except Sheriff Joe Arpaio, of course. Maybe, just maybe, he’ll now be exorcised from our national political dialogue.
Yet Republican posturing on the so-called fiscal cliff and its related issues — namely, the debt ceiling and tax rates in particular — has remained uniquely similar to what they said on countless occasions before last Tuesday’s election: Absolutely no give on the notion of raising tax rates for the wealthiest.
The Republicans continue to repeat their favorite meme: “Just close loopholes” — without ever specifying which or explaining how — “It is mathematically possible to close loopholes and raise enough revenue without crushing the middle class.”
Why no explanation? Simple. It can’t be done.
The Republican political calculus — and they may just be right — is that they can put together a 50 percent plus one coalition if they include Latinos, yet they don’t give any ground on their fiscal platform. Whether they’re right or wrong politically is up for debate. But what is certain is that they are wrong substantively. And that is why I and many others — see Paul Krugman’s piece in The New York Times — state with a certain passion: No deal.
Mr. President, do not make a deal on fiscal Issues with the Republicans right now, or with any sense of urgency. Call their bluff. Stare them down. Tell them to go over the cliff and enjoy the ride.
The public gets it. The public understands that rates should go up for the wealthiest. Look at every poll on the matter. Look at the outcome of Proposition 30 in California.
Mr. President, you need to tell Speaker Boehner that the time for elliptical answers and vagueness is over. Tell him that if he wants to have a substantive conversation on fiscal negotiations, it’s time he puts his cards on the table, face up.
Ask him to explain exactly which loopholes he’d like to close. Ask him to explain how those loopholes could be closed without decimating the middle class. Tell him the time for specifics is now.
Mr. President, it’s also time for you to announce some specifics. Start with eliminating the capital gains rate — the tax rate applied to most dividends, stock sales and the infamous carried interest that benefits hedge fund managers. Make it clear this is an essential part of any deal. Capital gains should be taxed as ordinary income. There should be no difference.
Mr. President, it’s time to be tough.
That’s “My View.”