In a July 15 editorial, the Washington Times encouraged Republicans to refuse to "compromis[e]" with Democrats "on taxes" during the default crisis negotiations because doing so "would be disastrous, possibly guaranteeing President Obama's re-election in 2012." The Washington Times argued that Democrats wanted to "split" the conservative base over taxes, which would be "key to Democratic success" in 2012. The editorial concluded: "Agreeing to new taxes could be the trigger that places Rep. Nancy Pelosi, San Francisco Democrat, back in the speaker's chair. No wonder the White House is so eager to seal that deal." CNN contributor and RedState.com founder Erick Erickson similarly argued to Republicans:
[D]espite what the pundits in Washington are telling you, it is you and not Obama who hold most of the cards. Obama has a legacy to worry about. Should the United States lose its bond rating, it will be called the "Obama Depression". Congress does not get pinned with this stuff.
Further, the Washington Times editorial advanced the false suggestion that former President Ronald Reagan did not raise taxes while waving the "banner of fiscal conservatism." In fact, Reagan "raised taxes so much on so many people" in peacetime that Paul Krugman has dubbed him "the great taxer."
From the Washington Times:
The White House is fighting hard to resolve the debt-ceiling crisis with a deal that raises taxes to maintain elevated spending levels. Republicans need to understand that compromising on taxes would be disastrous, possibly guaranteeing President Obama's re-election in 2012.
At the 1992 Republican National Convention, Mr. Bush admitted that the budget deal was a mistake. By then he was facing hard political realities of his own creation. While jogging in St. Petersburg in October 1990, reporters asked Mr. Bush about his broken pledge. He indicated his backside and said, "Read my hips." To many conservatives, this confirmed their suspicions that Ronald Reagan's successor had opportunistically taken the banner of fiscal conservatism from the Gipper. When the going got tough he sold out his principles in a back-room deal to make peace with the Democratic big spenders in Congress. This was the spark that gave rise to Pat Buchanan's 1992 Republican primary challenge to President Bush, and it fueled the third-party insurgency of Ross Perot. This split on the right and among independents allowed Bill Clinton, who in 1991 was a second-tier Democratic candidate without a prayer of winning, to skate into the White House on 43 percent of the vote.
Democrats want to recreate this dynamic so that Mr. Obama could find himself back in the White House, even though his poll numbers have plunged. Tea Party supporters and other conservatives will treat any compromise on taxes as a betrayal akin to the 1990 budget deal. They will either sit out the next election or be so angry they go the third-party route. Such a split is key to Democratic success.
House Speaker John A. Boehner, Ohio Republican, and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Kentucky Republican, need to learn the lesson of the 1990 budget deal. Any debt-ceiling agreement that raises taxes while only promising spending cuts will simply give the government more room to binge. Agreeing to new taxes could be the trigger that places Rep. Nancy Pelosi, San Francisco Democrat, back in the speaker's chair. No wonder the White House is so eager to seal that deal.