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Democrats risk "fiscal cliff" to pressure GOP into raising taxes

by AirTalk®

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House Speaker John Boehner believes that if Democrats don't back down on taxes for the wealthy, the economy will be at risk. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

It used to be that only death and taxes were inevitable. Now, there are the partisan battles.

On Monday, Senator Patty Murray (D-Washington), a leading Senate Democrat, made it clear that Dems are not backing down. In a speech at the Brookings Institution, Murray announced that Dems are willing to let nearly $600 billion worth of tax hikes and spending cuts take effect in January, unless Republicans agree to raise taxes on the wealthy – possibly pushing the county off a so-called fiscal cliff and back into recession.

“If we can’t get a good deal, a balanced deal that calls on the wealthy to pay their fair share,” Murray said, “then I will absolutely continue this debate into 2013, rather than lock in a long-term deal this year that throws middle class families under the bus.” Murray suggested that “responsible Republicans” should take the lead on pushing for revenue and that failure to do so by January 1, 2013 would make Grover Norquist’s “no tax” pledge irrelevant to the conversation.

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) fired back accusing Dems of holding the economy hostage. “Has it come to this, that Democrats are willing to hurt jobs and tank our economy for the sake of a small business tax hike that would also have disastrous consequences? Haven’t their policies caused enough hardship for middle-class families and small business already?” Boehner said in a statement.

How serious is this “fiscal cliff?” Are the Dems playing a dangerous game of chicken with the already struggling economy? Or does it make sense strategically and economically to try to corner Republicans into raising taxes?


Isabel Sawhill, Senior Fellow, Co-Director of the Budgeting for National Priorities Project, Brookings Institution

Ryan Ellis, Tax Policy Director, Americans for Tax Reform

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