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What the GOP Should Do: Propose Clinton Tax Rates and Clinton Spending Levels

BEGIN TRANSCRIPT

RUSH: Now to the audio sound bites.  We talked about this yesterday, folks.  Remember, if you were here yesterday, I was expressing confusion.  I didn't understand why so many Republicans think that if they just let Obama have his tax rate increase on the rich in this fiscal cliff deal, that automatically Obama will have to then start talking about entitlement cuts.  I was genuinely perplexed.  I was scratching my head, and I was lamenting sorrowfully that I'm just not smart enough to understand this.  So we have some sound bites about this.  CBS This Morning, the co-host was Norah O'Donnell, and she was talking to the CBS political director, John Dickerson, and they had this little exchange about the fiscal cliff negotiations.

O'DONNELL:  There's been so much attention on the Republicans and whether John Boehner can get his conference together and whether they'll go for increased tax revenues. But I keep thinking getting the Democrats to agree to any entitlement cuts may be harder than that.

DICKERSON:  Well, you're right.  What they need is basically enough to give John Boehner something he can go back and sell to his Republicans. And Boehner can't go too far on tax rates because he knows that the further he goes on raising tax rates the bigger a prize he'll need on entitlements. John Boehner needs something big that he can take back to Republicans.

RUSH:  Yeah, well, see, Norah O'Donnell gets it, too.  "You know, I'm beginning to think the Democrats won't cut entitlements."  Somebody sign her up and run for the Senate as a Republican.  We need somebody who can think like this in our party.  Honestly, folks, I know what the thinking is now.  I studied it.  I still don't understand it.  But there are Republicans, there are media people, Republican conservative media people who really believe that if we cave, if Boehner gives Obama what he wants on taxes, increases on the rich, that the media will then go to Obama and say, "Okay, the Republicans have done their part, and now it's your turn.  You have to cut entitlements."  We have people on our side who honestly, seriously believe that. 

And here's Norah O'Donnell this morning on CBS, "I'm beginning to think the Democrats won't cut entitlements."  Beginning to think they won't?  Can somebody find for me any evidence at all the Democrats are going to cut entitlements?  There isn't any.  I'm sorry if I keep repeating this and I'm getting blue in the face.  There is no common ground here.  The Democrats do not want entitlements cut.  They want them expanded.  They want to spend more money shoring up entitlements.  They want more people dependent on them. 

If the Republicans think that there is common ground to be reached here, they are sadly outclassed and mistaken.  There isn't any common ground.  There's no place for a bipartisan agreement.  This is like the Israeli-Palestinian fight.  There's only one outcome.  Well, two.  Perpetual, ongoing arguments and disagreements, or one side loses, is either defeated or caves in.  But there isn't any common ground here.  And Norah O'Donnell, "I'm beginning to think the Democrats aren't gonna cut entitlements."  Who in the world ever did?  Here's F. Chuck Todd on the Today Show this morning, talking about the same thing.

TODD:  The best I understand, though, is that they're actually closer on taxes and entitlements than on the debt ceiling.  That seems to be the biggest sticking point.  The White House is determined to get it out of the political arena.  Republicans are not ready to get rid of that leverage that they would have in February in exchange for what they'll agree to on taxes.

RUSH:  Look, here's the thing.  Folks, can I apologize?  I'm starting to feel a little guilty by even subjecting you to this because I don't want anybody to think I'm getting sucked in by the daily diatribe here.  This is all smoke and mirrors.  None of this is about anything that matters substantively.  All this is politics.  There's nothing more to it than that.  This is not about deficit reduction.  It's not about economic growth.  It's not about new jobs, not about the debt ceiling, not about any of that.  This purely and simply politics, and the media is all excited and caught up in it because that's all it is.  And that's what jazzes them.  That's all it is. 

I think the best the Republicans can do -- and, by the way, I'm not joining the chorus that Boehner has to cave in on the tax rates going up on the rich.  I just think that's gonna happen.  I always have.  If Obama won the election, I've always thought taxes on the top one or two percent were going up.  I've never doubted that.  I've never thought anything would be other than that.  But I'm still hearing people say that Obama's wants a deal because of his legacy.  He doesn't want a second term starting out with an immediate recession and brand-new increases in unemployment, and I'm saying, with all due respect to those of you who think that, I don't think he cares. 

That's not the legacy. You're plugging Obama into your standard, ordinary board game the way you cover politics in Washington.  Presidents and legacies means X.  Yeah, he wants a legacy, but he doesn't care about the legacy that you think he cares about.  This is not your average Democrat president.  He's not concerned about debt reduction.  He's not concerned about the deficit.  He's not concerned what history says about him about that.  He's into transforming this country.  If 50 years from now it is written that he transformed this country into a socialist democracy, that's the legacy he wants.  And if he wants to do that, there are certain specific things that he must do, and he cannot worry about unemployment.  He's not worried about it now.  He hasn't worried about it in four years. 

I think it's nonsensical to plug Obama into this standard operating procedure theory of presidential politics in Washington.  You know what the Republicans ought to do?  The best thing they could do, I think, is to deny him their complicitness in any deal that happens.  Because one thing I do believe Obama wants, he knows that there's going to be disaster after this.  He knows that there's going to be continued economic disaster.  He knows there's going to be continued shrinking in the American private sector.  He knows that the income gap is gonna continue to widen.  He knows that there is not gonna be any increased prosperity in this country, overall.  He knows that there isn't gonna be any new wealth created.  He's denying the private sector that chance.  He's taken too much money out of it. 

Make him do it alone.  This, to me, is the only leverage the Republicans have, and that is just don't be part of any deal.  If taxes are going to go up on the top 2%, don't sign off on it.  Just let him do it by himself.  Make him follow through on all these things that he wants.  Make him do them himself.  'Cause one thing I do think I know about Obama, as we go over the cliff, he wants both parties' fingerprints on it.  That part of his legacy he is concerned about.  That part of history he is concerned about.  If we're going over the cliff, he wants Democrat signatures and Republican signatures.  And I'm saying, don't sign it.  Deny him this bargain.  Deny him this grand deal.  Do not make it look like Obama brokered some kind of an agreement that Republicans found acceptable and then signed on to.  Just let him do this. 

I don't call this walking away, although that might be the practical result.  The phrase, let him own this, let him own it!  Keep your fingerprints off of it.  Do not, in other words, confess.  Do not concede that tax cuts for the rich have led to this problem.  And the Republicans, if they sign on to tax increases going up for the rich, they are effectively wiping themselves out.  They are admitting, they are confessing, they are conceding that tax cuts for the rich have been the source of the problem.  And they better not do that.  I'm telling you, if they're going up anyway, don't put their fingerprints on it. 

Let Obama own this.  And I don't mean from the standpoint of the media blaming him so that he comes around on entitlements.  I don't mean that.  I'm not suggesting that this can affect Obama's behavior in the future.  For the sake of the Republican Party, do not sign on to this.  Deny him that.  He wants the Republicans sharing the so-called credit for this.  And they'd better not.  It's really not that complicated, to me.  But, again, I'm not in their shoes.  It's easy for me to say here, effectively on the sidelines, but if the Republican Party is gonna try to stand for being the party of low taxes and economic growth, they better not put their names or their fingerprints on anything that raises taxes on anybody, particularly if it's gonna happen anyway.  Let Obama own that.

BREAK TRANSCRIPT

RUSH:  To Detroit, this is Mike.  I'm glad you called, sir.  Great to have you with us on the EIB Network.  Hi.

CALLER:  Hello, Rush.  Thank you.  It's truly an honor to be on your show.

RUSH:  Thank you, sir, very much.

CALLER:  I'm here calling from the soon-to-be right-to-work state of Michigan, if Lansing survives the party of the terrorists up there today. But, anyway, the reason I'm calling is to get your opinion on an idea. I'm not in favor of raising taxes on the wealthy like any good conservative, but what if Boehner and the boys put together a plan that also included immediate comprehensive cuts across the board?

RUSH:  Let me tell you something I suggested, I don't know, when I first heard -- Snerdley can help me out here -- when we first heard the Democrats start defending raising taxes on the rich back to 39.6. "Hey, it led to prosperity during the Clinton years." Whenever that was, how many months ago was it?  I don't know, but it's a decent amount of time ago.  What we said on this program at that time, "Okay, cool, if 39.6 as a top rate is really good and really led to prosperity, then let's go back to the Clinton spending levels at the same time," and how do you do that? 

It's not hard.  The Republicans could submit a budget identical to one that was, say, in the Clinton years, pick 1997 or 1998, just pick one.  When the Clinton rates were what the Democrats are now drooling over, and then put the same spending numbers in there.  By definition, that's gonna be a lot of spending reductions.  That's 14 years ago.  Is that right?  Regardless, whatever it is, the fact of the matter is that they could do that and make Obama reject it.  See, I think there's any number of things they can do.  We hear all this talk Republicans don't have any leverage.  In fact, grab sound bite 12, Brit Hume.  This is last night on the Fox News Channel, Special Report during the All-Star Panel.

HUME:  If you have an ounce of compassion this Christmas season, save it for John Boehner and the House Republicans.  President Obama is treating them as if he has them over a barrel headed for the fiscal cliff, and he does.  On top of it, Boehner is under attack from the right for being a weak negotiator.  But he's not a weak negotiator.  He's just got a weak hand.

RUSH:  Okay, so the assumption is he's got a weak hand.  All right, fine.  All you have to do is say "no" to it.  We're the party of "no" anyway, right?  Just say "no" to it.  'Cause I'll guarantee you, Obama wants... again, folks, I'm really sorry for being repetitive, but oftentimes it's necessary.  He wants the Republican Party fingerprints on this deal, 'cause it's a disaster.  What he is authoring is a disaster, and he wants Republican fingerprints on it.  Deny him that.  Deny him some bargain.  He wants a 39% tax rate, give it to him and submit a budget with spending from the Clinton years.  Submit a budget that, by that definition, is going to contain pretty significant spending cuts.  That's what we want anyway, isn't it?  We want entitlement reform. 

The only real fix for the mess we're in is spending cuts.  Propose them.  The Republicans just lost.  I guess they're thinking that it can get worse.  How can it get worse?  How much worse can it get?  What's gonna happen?  "Well, they're gonna hate us."  Ah, they already hate you.  Again, I'm on the sidelines.  I'm not in their shoes.  I don't live and work where they live and work every day.  I don't negotiate with Obama.  I know it's much easier here from the armchair to come up with ideas like this.  But, I don't know, it just seems so... and we've been proposing this.  Whenever I first heard this Clinton tax rate be reimplemented, "Well, let's do the spending levels, too."  Suggested just send a budget from the Clinton years up there and make him reject it.  I think it would be a great move.

BREAK TRANSCRIPT

RUSH: April 22nd, 2011. In the archives of RushLimbaugh.com, April 22nd, 2011, is when we proposed (summarized), "Okay, you like the Clinton tax rates? Let's do the Clinton spending levels. Let's send a budget up there from 1998." April 22nd, 2011. Maybe before that. That's just the first one we found in the search of our website. By the way, the federal budget in 1998, know what it was?

It was $1.6 trillion.

The federal budget in 1998 was $1.6 trillion.

That's just barely above what the deficit is and has been for each of the past four years. Obama has had four, trillion-dollar deficits: $1.2 trillion, $1.3 trillion. The entire federal budget... And, by the way, everything was fine back then, right? I mean, that's what the Democrats say. Everybody had what they wanted. Everybody had what they needed. It was an economic boom time.

We had surpluses, remember?

The Democrats and the media loves to talk about the Clinton surplus that Bush blew to smithereens. So we had a top rate of 39.6%. We had a federal budget of $1.6 trillion. Our population isn't growing that fast. In fact, we're dangerously close to losing population. The birthrate in this country is not at replacement levels. That's huge, too, by the way, but for another day.

So we had, by the definition of Democrats in the media, had a boom in 1998. Why, the only thing going wrong then was Lewinsky. We had massively cool surpluses on the verge of being created. We had economic growth. We had a boom going on. The Democrats tell us that today.

Yet the amount we were spending in 1998 is the deficit now. Does anybody really believe that our budget, which is over $3 trillion...? It's absurd to think that we cannot do everything we need to do for $3 trillion. We did with $1.6 trillion. And we were still running deficits then, but nowhere near the size of the deficit today. In fact, we're nearing surplus that they love to talk about. So let's just go back to that.

Why, it was magic!

Let's just re-create the Clinton era here in Obama's second term.

BREAK TRANSCRIPT

Now, I ran the numbers. In 1998 we had a budget of $1.65 trillion, and revenues are $1.71 trillion. Let's go back to 1998 and submit the Clinton spending levels and the Clinton levels of taxation. If you move that forward to 2005 dollars, it would be revenues of two trillion, expenditures of $1.9 trillion. You move it to 2012, of course, you get what you get. You get federal spending $3.3 trillion and a deficit of 1.3. It's incredible. It's just absurd. There's no earthly reason. We do not have the expenses that we're spending for. It's just a crying shame what's happened. It is a genuine shame what's happened to this country.

BREAK TRANSCRIPT

RUSH:  Now, the left wants to go back to the Clinton tax rates because they think there was prosperity.  You want real prosperity?  Let's go back to the Reagan years.  That's the greatest expansion of the American economy in American history.  It's that simple, and it's that difficult as well.

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