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Avoiding the cliff

Published November 17, 2012 1:01 am

Utah's delegates don't get it
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Utah lawmakers very well may be representing the views of their constituents as they insist that the federal government's looming fiscal crisis be fixed — or just temporarily avoided — without any new sources of revenue. But they are not representing our best interests. Or the facts.

The view expressed by the Utah members of the lame duck Congress — Sens. Orrin Hatch and Mike Lee, Reps. Rob Bishop, Jason Chaffetz and Jim Matheson — is that any possibility of raising revenues is so wrong that they would much rather just punt than do a deal with the White House.

This despite the fact that President Obama was clearly re-elected on his promise of allowing the Bush-era tax cuts to expire for households with incomes of more than $250,000 a year. Exit polls showed, in fact, that voter support for higher taxes on the rich, as part of a deficit-reduction package, was higher than voter support for Obama's re-election.

The argument that any real progress toward deficit reduction can or should be made without new revenues is the same kind of math that GOP kingmaker Karl Rove was using on Election Night to insist that Obama hadn't won Ohio.

Moreover, independent calculations by such worthies as the Congressional Budget Office have concluded that higher tax rates on the rich do not drag down the economy. They certainly aren't as much a threat to the recovery as the huge tax hikes and spending cuts that are ready to fire automatically if Congress does not act before the end of the year.

Members of Utah's delegation, sadly, have drunk the no-tax-hike Kool Aid and insist that tax hikes on those most able to pay will harm the economy. They insist that tax hikes come after, or be made unnecessary by, huge spending cuts.

But the kind of cuts that would come without action would be a recipe for recession. Yanking $500 billion from defense spending and $500 billion from domestic spending, as the automatic penalties of the so-called Fiscal Cliff demand, would suck so much money, and so many jobs, out of the economy so quickly that it would get a serious case of the bends.

That's the Utahns' reason for some kind of temporary fix, six months or a year, to kick the can down the road a bit.

But it's the reason why cooler heads, including those of the president and Republican House Speaker John A. Boehner, are making noises that indicate they are not going to let this crisis go to waste, and will do a deal that includes both spending cuts and revenue increases.

If that happens, Utahns will win. Not because of our elected representatives, but in spite of them.




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