So the fondest Washington hopes for a grand debt-limit deal have broken down over taxes. House Speaker John Boehner said late Saturday that he couldn't move ahead with a $4 trillion deal because President Obama was insisting on a $1 trillion tax increase, and the White House quickly denounced House Republicans for scuttling debt reduction and preventing "the very wealthiest and special interests from paying their fair share."
How dare Republicans not agree to break their campaign promises and raise taxes when the jobless rate is 9.2% and President Obama's economic recovery is in jeopardy?
We think Mr. Boehner is making the sensible choice. No one wants to reform the tax code more than we do, but passing a $1 trillion tax increase first on the promise of tax reform later is a political trap. If the president were really sincere about reform and a willingness to keep the top tax rate at or below 35%, he'd negotiate that at the same time he does a debt deal. Mr. Boehner will have a hard enough time getting any debt-limit increase through the House, much less one that raises tax rates.
Keep in mind that Mr. Obama has already signed the largest tax increase since 1993. While everyone focuses on the Bush tax rates that expire after 2012, other tax increases are already set to hit the economy thanks to the 2010 Affordable Care Act.
The following editorial appeared in today's Wall Street Journal. To continue reading, click here.