It's time for Republicans to face it: The Bush tax cuts on the richest Americans will have to end. If the "fiscal cliff" isn't avoided, the GOP will get the blame, and leaders in both business and national security will be furious. So they should accept an increase in top tax rates to 36% or 37%, and say they'll "forgo a debt-ceiling fight for this year." Sure, it's a political concession, but it's not a big economic sacrifice, writes David Brooks in the New York Times. And it could be part of a "truly grand bargain" that ultimately benefits the GOP.
Republicans could call for "medium-size entitlement reform." More importantly, they could demand that next spring, both parties present reform bills that would cut the debt to 60% of GDP by 2024 and 40% by 2037. No "Grand Bargain" by December would mean automatic cuts plus tax hikes. "The ensuing debate would force voters to face the elemental truth—that they can only have a government as big as they are willing to pay for," Brooks writes. What's more, 2013 would "be spent on natural Republican turf (tax and entitlement reform) instead of natural Democratic turf (expanding government programs)." And the result would be GOP-friendly: A conservative House bill and center-left Senate one, equating to a center-right deal. Click through for Brooks' full column. (Read more David Brooks stories.)