The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

December 9, 2012

Lawmakers need to end rhetoric, find solution to ‘fiscal cliff’


Enid News & Eagle

— We’ve heard enough rhetoric on the “fiscal cliff.” It’s time to get down to business.

We realize a package of spending cuts and tax increases will take effect next year without an agreement, according to The Associated Press.

Oklahoma’s two Toms are making national headlines.

Conservative Congressman Tom Cole, R-Okla., said it’s better to make sure that tax cuts for the 98 percent of taxpayers who make less than $200,000 or $250,000 a year are extended than to battle it out with President Barack Obama and risk increasing taxes on everyone.

“The reality is, nobody can look at this budget and think if you don’t reform entitlements, you can balance it,” he told the AP.

Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., said he could support Obama’s demand for an increase in tax rates at upper incomes as part of a comprehensive plan to cut federal deficits.

“Personally, I know we have to raise revenue; I don’t really care which way we do it,” the conservative senator told MSNBC. “Actually, I would rather see the rates go up than do it the other way, because it gives us greater chance to reform the tax code and broaden the base in the future.”

As Oklahoma Treasurer Ken Miller wisely points out, Coburn and Cole wouldn’t jump off a fiscal cliff just because all their friends did.

“Is it not conservative to be cautious in our approach to needed income tax reduction, to protect the state credit rating, to pay our debts and to ensure sufficient funding for core services with a diversified and dependable revenue structure?” the Republican Miller wrote in a commentary.

“Ronald Reagan, the deserved standard-bearer of conservative principles, would no doubt be attacked in today’s political climate since he failed the revenue-neutral test by signing several tax increases.”

Where does Gov. Mary Fallin stand on the fiscal cliff? She knows that not resolving the issue would be a huge detriment for our state and national economy.

Stalled negotiations already are having an impact, as businesses are unsure of the future. Fallin also acknowledged the uncertainty makes it hard to prepare the state’s budget and legislative agenda.

While Obama’s victory doesn’t provide a mandate, we hope the reality of the fiscal cliff forces constructive bipartisan compromise. We need a productive resolution soon.