Popular right-wing television host Sean Hannity warned Republicans on Fox News on Thursday not to compromise with President Barack Obama on raising taxes as it would ignite a “civil war” in the party.
Hannity pointed out that the president’s plan to raise income taxes on the rich made little budget sense. “Even if Obama gets what he wants, which is to raise the top rate from 35 percent to 39.6 percent, the revenues would merely fund this government for roughly eight days.”
The president campaigned on raising taxes on the wealthy, however, and his treasury secretary, Timothy Geithner, said an interview with CNBC this week that the administration was “absolutely” prepared to over the fiscal cliff, triggering over $600 billion in automatic spending cuts and tax increases, unless rate go up for the top 2 percent of income earners.
Hannity alleged that the president wants to force Republicans to raise taxes to ignite a “civil war” in their party. “And in that respect, sadly, Obama is having some success.”
After the president called for $1.6 trillion in tax increases over a ten year period, House speaker John Boehner angered many conservatives with his counterproposal to raise revenue by $800 billion throughout the same period, even if it is without increasing rates but through eliminating tax deductions.
Retiring South Carolina senator Jim DeMint, a staunch fiscal conservative and Tea Party favorite, told Fox News’ Special Report also on Thursday, “For Republicans to concede that we need more revenue, in the context of not reforming entitlements, not reforming out tax code, that’s nuts. We should not negotiate with ourselves and we should stand our ground.”
Hannity warned, “So long as this debate is focused not on cutting spending but on raising taxes and revenues — with the only questions being, ‘which taxes? how much revenue?’ — well then Obama wins.” He urged Republicans to refocus the debate on spending which was a winning issue for them in the 2010 congressional elections.
At the conservative blog RedState, Erick Erickson similarly predicts that the president’s Democratic Party will get “crushed” again in the midterm elections if they let the Bush era income tax cuts and Obama’s payroll tax cut expire which would raise revenue by $440 billion next year. “Their red state Democrats need political cover before they can vote to increase taxes,” he writes. “That cover is a Republican cave.”
Democrats want to preserve the Bush era tax rates only for incomes under $250,000 while Republicans favor extending them all. “When you go and increase rates, you make it more difficult for our economy to grow,” Boehner said on Fox News Sunday this weekend. DeMint added on Thursday, “Taxing the rich is not going to help the middle class.”
Republicans also advocate far deeper spending cuts in domestic programs, including health care, but not in defense.
The president needs Republican support to get a budget deal through the House of Representatives where the opposition has the majority. Democrats control the upper chamber of Congress, the Senate.
Hannity said that he feared Republicans were too prepared to do a deal. “I get the feeling with each and passing day, as Republicans move closer and closer to the Obama position, that they’re too afraid to go over the cliff. They’re too willing to make a deal, any deal, no better how bad that might be.”