President Barack Obama campaigned and won the election on raising taxes on the rich, says Democratic strategist Pat Caddell, but if Republicans don’t fight for their pro-growth message now they’re going to “get taken to the cleaners” again.
House GOP leaders need to demand a ratio of $3 in cuts for every $1 in revenue in the deal, says Caddell, who served as a strategist for former President Jimmy Carter.
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“We’re at $16 trillion because both parties allowed it. So if they’re serious... we’ve got to do something about the deficit, which the country thinks we need to do," Caddell said. "And government spending. They’re going to have to give a little. And if they give a little, they put all of these people on the spot because I’m not sure they’ll cut. Then the responsibility becomes theirs.”
Caddell said that the Republicans gave away the chance for a long-term solution on the federal debt during the debt ceiling debate in 2011. Obama’s goal was to prevent the debate from coming up again during the 2012 election season.
That situation was similar to debates about whether or not to extend the Bush tax cuts in the fall of 2010, after Republicans took back the House in the mid-term election.
GOP leadership cut a deal with Obama to extend the breaks, but also extended unemployment benefits for up to 99 weeks, created incentives for business development and cut the federal payroll tax by two percent.
“Republicans always lay down politically for that stuff without ever getting anything in return,” Caddell said. “They did it in 2010 when they didn’t have to give him a second stimulus - when they didn’t have to give him all of that stuff to preserve tax cuts for the rich. They could have just simply said, ‘We won the election, Mr. President. Do you want our signed tax bill in the middle of a recession? Go ahead. If you want it to happen, make it happen.’ But Republicans aren’t good at that. They get taken to the cleaners every time.”
He said that Obama has not put forth any actual plan or proposal for the “grand bargain” all sides are hoping to make happen. The only way for Republicans to get any part of what they want is to force Obama’s hand.
“The president’s problem is that he campaigned on wanting to tax the rich and he’s going to get it - it’s what elections are about,” Caddell said. “On the other hand, he’s not a bit serious about cuts. And what I’m surprised at is the Republicans have not taken a position that says, ‘We will give you that.... We would prefer to do this – cut rates and cut exemptions out – but we demand a 3-to-1 ratio of real cuts in entitlements and where it really matters. And we want you to take the lead on the cuts, Mr. President, and we’ll give you what you want.’ That would put the president in position where he failed [in last year’s debt ceiling debate]."
Caddell also said the president and his administration’s handling of Benghazi looks to him Nixonian in its lack of transparency.
Comparing the situation to Watergate and Iran-Contra, he said that Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Sen. Lindsey Graham, D-S.C., are right on the money by requesting the inquiry into what happened - and for calling the president out along the way.
“The answer is somebody isn’t telling the truth,” he said. “Something bad happened and we need to get to the bottom of it. And I’m afraid we’re not. And Petraeus, there’s more to this Petraeus thing than meets the eye. They’re setting him up to be the fall guy. He shouldn’t be naïve about this.
"If you don’t think the White House, somewhere, knew that the investigation was going on and you don’t believe that Petraeus was following the line because he was scrambling to try to preserve himself and you don’t believe they’d knock him out of the saddle immediately on the day after the election, that it was a mere coincidence, then I have a whole bunch of bridges I want to sell you starting in Brooklyn."
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