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Sen. Jim Inhofe: GOP now in a stronger position

BY U.S. SEN. JIM INHOFE Published: January 9, 2013

The fiscal cliff compromise passed by Congress wasn't perfect, but it was a step forward for the nation and for Republicans. To encourage economic growth, conservatives like me believe Washington must work toward shrinking the size of federal government by keeping taxes low and cutting wasteful spending. By making the Bush-era tax cuts permanent for 99 percent of Americans, this recent deal does more to lower taxes than Republicans have accomplished in more than a decade.

Conservative opposition to this resulted from the misunderstanding that it should have cut spending. This was a tax issue, and the spending debate comes next. By settling taxes independently, this is no longer a bargaining chip for Barack Obama and congressional Democrats to use — as they have in the past — when negotiating spending cuts.

Had Congress not acted or only temporarily extended the tax cuts as in years past, the average Oklahoman would have experienced a tax increase of between $2,000 and $3,500. Additionally, many of our farmers, ranchers and small-business owners would have been forced to close their doors or sell land to afford the substantial death tax hike that has now been averted. Making the vast majority of those tax cuts permanent strengthens the GOP negotiating position, and makes meaningful spending cuts a greater likelihood.

President Obama wanted an unlimited debt ceiling agreement to be included in this deal, but Republicans refused. Had Democrats been successful in keeping the debates over tax and spending policy combined, they would have had the upper hand in future negotiations. In the coming weeks, the president will be forced to ask Congress for another debt limit increase. Republicans, having accomplished permanency in current tax rates, can now leverage the debate to fight for more meaningful spending cuts.

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