David Brooks pessimistic over fiscal cliff agreement: ‘Everybody’s taxes will go up’

Photo of Jeff Poor
Jeff Poor
Media Reporter

Now that last week’s elections have been settled, the next big issue facing the legislators in Washington, D.C. is the threat of going over the so-called fiscal cliff–an automatic trigger of spending cuts and tax hikes meant to reduce the deficit.

There has been some hope in the upcoming lame-duck session of Congress, an agreement could be made to resolve that threat. However New York Times columnist David Brooks isn’t hopeful.

On Friday’s broadcast of PBS’s “NewsHour,” Brooks expressed pessimism and said at least for a short while, those automatic triggers will be enacted.

“I do think there is room for revenue,” Brooks said. “There is a distinction that Boehner makes between raising the rates, which the president wants to go up to 39.5 or 39.6 [percent], and keeping the rates the same, but closing loopholes to get more revenue that way out of the rich. You can’t really get as much revenue that way. But, so there is some room for a deal. I’m just struck by how complicated it is. You know, [Tennessee Republican Sen. Bob] Corker kept talking about entitlement reform. And he’s right. That’s absolutely necessary. But that is a phenomenally complicated thing to do.”

“And then on the other side, to close loopholes or even to raise rates, you probably have to do some big tax reform,” Brooks continued. “Well, in 1986, when they did tax reform, you had some incredibly skilled legislative craftsmen, Bob Packwood and Danny Rostenkowski, who also had their personal failings. But it took them two years. And these are the people at the top of their game, and in a non-polarized body. And so I’m just struck by the incredible difficulty of what’s ahead of us. And so I’m a pessimist. I think we’re going to go over the cliff, at least for some time. Everybody’s taxes will go up. And we’re going to — they’re going to play some real brinksmanship.”

Later, Brooks pointed out another hurdle the parties on Capitol Hill will face in trying to broker a deal — both sides’ bases are so thoroughly entrenched, he believes it will be a difficult sell.

Follow Jeff on Twitter