Republicans have enough votes right now to block President Obama's plan to extend tax cuts for the middle class while allowing those for "the wealthy" to expire -- a de facto multibillion-dollar tax hike in the depths of a recession.
House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, had appeared to open the door for a possible compromise on CBS's "Face the Nation" Sunday. But other Republicans rushed to slam that door this week, and properly so.
Mr. Obama raised the stakes last week when he accused Republicans of "holding hostage" middle-class tax cuts to save lower tax rates for the top two income brackets. Tax rate cuts for everyone, enacted under former President George W. Bush, will expire at the end of the year should Congress fail to act.
At this point, hearing the dull roar of what could be an incoming tidal wave of fiscal outrage over their spending habits, Democrats in both houses are scrambling away from President Obama's "hike taxes on the wealthy" agenda like rats escaping a sinking ship.
The Obama White House claims extending the tax cuts for everyone would "cost" the federal government $700 billion over the next decade. But this is like saying it would "cost" the stick-up man $200 not to take the $200 in your wallet. It ignores who the money belongs to in the first place.
Republicans should demand a straight up-or-down vote on extending all the Bush tax cuts -- as a down payment on further tax and regulatory cutbacks and simplifications to come. They need not settle for anything less.