So even though raising taxes is a terrible idea, clearing the deck of one of the most effective political distractions ever concocted, the Bush-era tax rate, allows the GOP to recalibrate a debate they’ve been losing for four years.
This week the president said, "Our ultimate goal is an agreement that gets our long-term deficit under control in a way that is fair and balanced." A few years before, when he promised to cut the deficit in half, Obama claimed that "this will not be easy. It will require us to make difficult decisions and face challenges we’ve long neglected."
So what are these hard decisions?
Republicans have already offered at least two detailed plans. One from Sen. Pat Toomey and another one more recently from Sen. Bob Corker — which offers some reforms on Social Security, new revenue and a cap on itemized deductions after $50,000. Democrats? They’ve balked on spending cuts. Balked on entitlement reform. What’s left? A value added tax? A carbon tax? What’s left after the rich pay their "fair share"?
What’s left for Republicans is a fight over tax and entitlement reform that could make Obama’s victory today mean far less tomorrow.