- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The White House and Democratic congressional leaders are perfectly happy if taxes go up for most taxpayers on Jan. 1 — especially if catapulting off the “fiscal cliff” can be blamed on Republicans.

House Speaker John A. Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell have properly labeled the latest plan from Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner as “not serious.” Some pundits, both on the right and left, along with certain Democratic politicians, seem to believe that Republicans are backed into a corner, bereft of leverage, with no choice but to cave on the issue of higher taxes on families making more than $250,000 per year or individuals making more than $200,000.

Not so. The way out is simple. The House should pass two separate, easy-to-comprehend, one-page bills relating to the fiscal cliff. The first would call for the preservation of income tax rates and current rates of taxation on capital gains, dividends and interest, for all adjusted annual income of $250,000 or less for families, and $200,000 for individuals. This is more or less what President Obama has repeatedly said he will accept.

Concurrently, the House should pass a second bill, this one calling for the preservation of all tax rates and current rates of taxation on capital gains, dividends and interest, for adjusted annual income greater than $250,000 for families and $200,000 for individuals. This is consistent with the Republicans’ insistence that taxes not be raised on small-business owners, the creators of most new jobs.

Both approved bills would then be sent on to the Senate for disposition (or not, as the case may be). If neither bill passes the Senate, then Republicans in both houses can assert that it’s the Democrats who forced the country over the fiscal cliff. If only the first bill passes, at least Republicans will not have abandoned their pledge not to raise taxes on the American people, regardless of income. If both bills pass, Republicans and the American people are winners.

TOM STAUSS

Ocean Pines, Md.