This week on Fox News Sunday, viewers were treated to yet another round of Bill Kristol giving advice to Republicans on how to negotiate on extending tax cuts for the middle class, or at least what he considers middle class.
After previously saying that Republicans are not going to be able to defend tax cuts for the wealthy, that they should not "fall on their sword" to defend millionaires, that a lot of the "tea party" groups won't care if millionaires pay more taxes and that they're going to look like they don't care about the middle class, Kristol was once again trying to get the line drawn at a million dollars in income instead of the $250 thousand threshold the President is insisting on.
Kristol went so far this time as to call raising taxes on everyone with incomes between $250K and a million "extreme" and opined about how hard it might be on those families if they're paying college tuition. These guys never seem to mind throwing additional tax burdens on those who are truly middle class all across America, or going after benefits for people on fixed incomes that rely on programs like Social Security and Medicare, but lord knows we can't burden someone who is making over a quarter of a million dollars a year with a slightly larger tax burden. They also love to give people the impression that those higher taxes would be paid on their entire income. They'd still be benefiting from the lower rates on their income below $250,000.
Transcript below the fold.
WALLACE: Juan, 23 days and counting now until we go over the cliff. Do you see -- and you heard senators Corker and Schumer, any sign that we are getting closer to a deal? And it sure seemed, listening to Senator Corker, like Republicans are caving on the top tax rates.
WILLIAMS: You were listening carefully.
WALLACE: It didn't take that much careful listening.
WILLIAMS: I think that is exactly right. I mean, that is the sign. I mean, Republicans don't have leverage in this deal. You look at the polls, it is not one or two polls, it is overwhelming, the American people would blame the GOP.
And then the second thing to say is that you look at people like Corker, but you could go beyond Corker to Tom Coburn, Saxby Chambliss, even my colleague Bill Kristol, who said, you know...
WALLACE: Senator Kristol.
WILLIAMS: Senator Kristol here. You know, he said, look, it's time to -- you know, Republicans don't need this fight. It's not a winning fight for them politically. And the third thing, but something that I think a lot of people don't say is, this could be damaging to President Obama.
He wants to begin his second term more forward-looking, not lost in a sea of economic fear in the country. And people would blame him for, you know, taking away unemployment benefits, no doc fix, you know, letting taxes go up on everybody. That's just not what he wants.
WALLACE: Payroll taxes.
WILLIAMS: Right, so both sides here have strong incentive to make a deal. Not to mention they want to get out of town for Christmas.
WALLACE: Not to mention.
Bill, given all of that, and you were one of the early people who said, Republicans, I just thought we would remind those who may have missed it...
WALLACE: You were one of the people who said Republicans don't want to be fighting over tax increases for millionaires. What is the smart play for Republicans at this point and how do they get -- because it has all been about taxes, how do they get the deficit debate back to their issues, which are spending and entitlements?
KRISTOL: I think they can do that next year once they get taxes off the table. I think what they will do is pass -- in the House of Representatives the Republican majority will pass an extension of all the Bush tax cuts, which is what Republicans believe is the best policy.
WALLACE: You're talking about doing that before the end of this year.
KRISTOL: Yes. Before Christmas. And then they will pass, perhaps, a second piece of legislation as a fall back if the Senate doesn't accept the better piece of legislation, and that legislation will be -- will make some accommodations to President Obama, perhaps raise -- allow a tax hike up to 37 percent, but only for millionaires.
I mean, Obama has a pretty extreme position, which is a tax hike of 4 percent on every family making $250,000 or more. There are a lot of upper middle class families that are not very wealthy -- don't think they are very wealthy if they are paying college tuition or whatever, making more than $250,000 and less than $750,000 or a million.
There is already a tax increase going into effect for those families in "Obama-care," about a 1 percent increase on their income and also a big 3 percent increase -- surcharge on investment money.
So I think Republicans can say, best case, no tax increase, we'll also give you a responsible, modest increase, so you can satisfy yourself, President Obama, that we're increasing taxes a little bit on millionaires, not on families making $250,000 a year.
Obama would have to accept that. Republicans would have saved a lot of families from a worse tax increase. And then you can have a big spending and entitlement fight next year where I think Republicans have plenty of leverage. There will still be a debt ceiling issue. There will still be a continuing resolution for funding the government running out in March. It is not as if -- you know, it's not as if everything is resolved this month.