There’s a great fiscal debate in Washington, and George W. Bush is winning it. In 2008, Barack Obama campaigned on a pledge not to reverse Bush’s tax cuts for the bottom 98 percent of taxpayers, a promise he has worked hard to honor. That locked in 80 percent of the Bush-era revenue losses. During the current negotiations, Obama’s initial offer includes $1.6 billion in new revenue over 10 years, which would leave intact about 60 percent of Bush’s tax cuts.
Two entrenched positions define the revenue dimension of the fiscal cliff debate—Republicans’ opposition to rate increases, and President Obama’s longstanding vow not to raise taxes on families making $250,000 per year or less. Each side has reasonable if not completely compelling arguments in favor of its position.
Two weeks after the first presidential debate and on the eve of the second, it is clear that Mitt Romney’s surge is more than an evanescent bump. He has moved into the lead in the national poll of polls (something John Kerry never quite managed despite his victory in the first 2004 debate), and a number of swing states have shifted in his direction. This 2012 election is now in the zone where the Electoral College comes into play.