The right thing is to bring back Bill Clinton’s tax rates on the well-off and then have a broad tax reform discussion next year. A similar logic applies to health care programs, as Jonathan Cohn suggested in The New Republic. Before making big cuts in Medicaid and Medicare, we need to see if the reforms in the Affordable Care Act can contain medical inflation.
The fiscal cliff creates an enormous opportunity to end an era in which it was never, ever permissible to raise taxes. In the pre-Grover days, conservatives believed passionately in pay-as-you-go government. A tough stand by progressives will make it easier for conservatives to return to the path of fiscal responsibility.