Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer urges the House Republicans to make it clear that they are willing to go over the fiscal cliff if it proves to be impossible to get a budget deal which includes significant spending cuts as well as tax revenue increases. His most recent column, which appeared in the December 2, 2012 Omaha World Herald, points out that the Republicans have plenty of leverage if they are only willing to use it.
Many economists claim that restoring the Clinton tax rates for everyone, as well as the $110 billion automatic spending cut sequester, which would be the consequences of going off the cliff, would cause a new double-dip recession with a big increase in unemployment. No one really wants to take the chance of finding out if this scenario would actually play out, neither Democrats nor Republicans.
With an exploding national debt, caused by trillion dollar deficits for the last four years in a row, with no end in sight in the near future if present policy continues, the Republicans will generate huge public support for substantial, but sensible, cuts in both discretionary and entitlement programs. Nothing should be off the table, neither further defense cuts nor reforms to all of the big three entitlement programs: Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. Republicans will be viewed most favorably by the general public if they do not try to protect any sacred cows in this process.
The biggest cudgel held by the Republicans, is the looming need, in the next few months, to raise the national debt limit. Republicans should wield this cudgel in an especially visible fashion, and will be supported by the American people for doing so. This, after all, is the bottom line. Somebody has to say no to runaway deficit spending, and the Republicans need to make very clear that they are highly committed to accomplishing this urgent task.