Four weeks after the election, with the doomsday clock ticking down to an end-of-year deadline, the Republicans finally made a counteroffer to President Obama’s tax-the-rich plan Monday. We hope they abandon it soon.
Rather than the rich, the proposal by House Speaker John Boehner would solve the fiscal crisis on the backs of seniors: They’d have to wait an extra two years, to age 67, to qualify for Medicare; and the formula used to calculate their annual Social Security raise would be tweaked, with the result — voila! — of their getting a smaller one.
The best thing that can be said about the Republican proposal is that it is one. Until Monday, they’d done little but snipe at Obama’s, which is premised on raising the top tax rate on income exceeding $250,000, from 35 percent to the 39.6 percent. Obama ran in 2008, promising to push the top tax rate back to its Clinton-era level, then fought futilely for most of his first term to win Republicans’ cooperation. Now the battle has been renewed, but with the fiscal cliff looming in the horizon, the stakes are considerably higher.
Obama shouldn’t back down: People who make that kind of money can afford to pay an additional 4.6 percent on amounts exceeding $250,000. But most seniors can’t afford to wait two additional years to qualify for lower-cost health insurance; and they need their annual cost-of-living raises to pay for ever-rising food, energy and property tax bills.
It seems shocking, frankly, that Republicans would make such a bald-faced effort to pick seniors’ pockets. And the balance of their proposal — unspecified limits to tax deductions and closing of loopholes — wasn’t much better.