Extend the tax cuts — all of them

From the Sept. 14 Chicago Tribune:

What came over Rep. John Boehner, R-Ohio? The House minority leader suggested a compromise with Democrats on taxes. Within a matter of seconds, it seemed, the knives were out. His own party ripped him, and the White House fell back on that tired political cliché about “the failed policies that got us into this mess.” For a scary moment, it sounded like a rerun from the 2008 campaign.

We’re back where we started, Democrats and Republicans unwilling to budge.

Nobody in this impasse can claim the high road on fiscal responsibility. Over the last decade, Republicans and Democrats alike have gleefully spent trillions of dollars they never had. When the first George W. Bush-era tax cuts passed in 2001 the Congressional Budget Office was projecting a $5.6 trillion surplus for the following 10 years. Now it’s forecasting a $1.3 trillion-plus deficit in 2010 alone.

Best course for now: Extend the tax cuts by one year — all the tax cuts. Then, strike a grand bargain based on the recommendations of President Barack Obama’s deficit commission, due out shortly after the Nov. 2 election. With any luck, a wake-up call at the ballot box will bring financial discipline back into style on Capitol Hill. It’s about time.

If Obama’s finding his “tax the rich” rhetoric going nowhere, it’s because nobody, rich or poor, trusts Washington taxaholics to find a responsible use for any additional revenues they might obtain. Example: The president is still talking about more stimulus spending. He should know by now that taxpayers are sick of being treated like ATMs. …

Fiddling with tax policy right now risks further disruptions for employers already buffeted by Washington. After Nov. 2, and after the commission speaks, fixes to taxation and spending could give Americans a long-range solution.

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