Richmond Times-Dispatch Editorial
July 15, 2012
Tim Kaine has a good idea. Too bad it will never happen.
The issue concerns taxes. President Obama has offered to extend for one year those Bush tax cuts applying to families earning less than $250,000, if Republicans will agree to hike taxes on the rich. Republicans want to extend the tax cuts for everyone, with no income limit — and quickly labeled Obama's proposal a tax hike.
Kaine — former governor of Virginia, former head of the Democratic National Committee, and current candidate for U.S. Senate — says the two sides should split the difference and extend the tax cuts for those making less than $500,000 a year. "If everyone sets partisanship aside, we can find the right balance," he says.
You can take issue with this on a number of grounds. For example: If current tax rates are too high, then splitting the difference between raising taxes and not raising taxes will make the situation worse, not better. By the same token, if current spending levels are too low, then splitting the difference between a $1 billion spending cut and no spending cut at all also will make matters worse.
Yet by and large, questions of taxing and spending are not issues of absolute right and wrong the way questions such as abortion or capital punishment are. They are, rather, questions of degree — and questions of degree ought to be amenable to compromise.
If congressional Republicans and the Obama White House were interested in accomplishing something, then they would agree to Kaine's compromise and take half a loaf each. Instead, we suspect both of them will use the tax issue as a political weapon, and then blame the other side when everyone goes hungry.