Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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February 28, 2011

WHY THE RIGHT MIGHT BALK AT A 'GRAND BARGAIN'.... There's been a fair amount of chatter this month about a "grand bargain" on the budget. Indeed, there have been ongoing, bipartisan talks between six senators who envision a sweeping compromise that tackle entitlements, tax reform, and deficit reduction, all at the same time.

The bargain, if one ever actually comes together, is very likely to be seen as ugly from the left, but negotiators at least seem to appreciate the fact that any serious deficit reduction plan has to include both sides of the ledger. Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) isn't exactly a moderate, but he conceded a few weeks ago that tax increases will have to "be a part of the mix."

Guess how that's playing out on the Hill.

Some [Senate Republicans] are concerned that a deficit reduction package being negotiated by Sens. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) and Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), two of the chamber's leading conservatives, could include hundreds of billions of dollars worth of tax hikes. [...]

Some conservatives in the Senate worry that Coburn, Crapo, and a third negotiator, Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.), might endorse tax reforms that would increase the total amount the federal government collects in taxes.

"The Republicans involved in this are miscalculating the environment right now," said a GOP aide. "We're marching on with the House and Senate Republicans united over reducing government spending, shrinking the size of government.

"We have the wind at our backs," said the aide. "The best way to stop that momentum is have some Republicans and respected conservatives break off and talk about tax increases," said the aide.

And we're reminded once again why it's so difficult to take the right seriously on fiscal issues. We're on track to have a $1.5 trillion deficit this year, which conservatives believe threatens the very fabric of civilization. But told that some tax increases might be in the mix, these same conservatives are already balking.

The federal tax burden is already at the lowest levels we've seen in generations, and elimination of the Bush-era tax breaks could make a huge difference in bringing down the deficit in a hurry. But the right is already unhappy with talk of a "grand bargain," the details of which don't even exist yet. Any tax increase on anyone at any time is necessarily unacceptable.

This isn't going to turn out well.

Steve Benen 10:30 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (17)

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Comments

Y'know, things have gotten really scary when Senators like Tom Coburn, Mike Crapo, and Saxby Chambliss are insufficiently conservative for the GOP base.

Posted by: low-tech cyclist on February 28, 2011 at 10:37 AM | PERMALINK

actually, i'd like to congratulate them on honesty: this is not a matter of fiscal discipline. this is a matter of right-wingers wanting to shrink government, regardless of the size of the deficit.

now, if only we could get the media to know the difference and report accordingly.

Posted by: howard on February 28, 2011 at 10:37 AM | PERMALINK

Well, in all fairness, tax cuts are their only new idea.
Of course, that new idea is now over 60 years old.

It's the same thing over, and over again. Even when it's disproven, they still insist that tax breaks create jobs.

Hint to Repbulicans. I know you like NASCAR, but did you know that, away from the track, the drivers know how to make a right turn.
Really!

Posted by: c u n d gulag on February 28, 2011 at 10:37 AM | PERMALINK

Howard:
They only want to shrink programs that might help liberals, or people that vote for the Democrats.

Posted by: Phil Perspective on February 28, 2011 at 10:40 AM | PERMALINK

The real hypocrisy among Republicans is their refusal to look at tax increases with their call for "shared sacrifice."

Without tax increases, the only way to fiscal responsibility is to cut programs. But programs cuts do not directly affect the affluent, who can usually buy what they need anyway. The only way the affluent can help with our fiscal problems is to pay a little more. But Republicans refuse to countenance that option, because that would be a tax hike--even though the rates we paid under Clinton were hardly onerous.

So the outcome is that Republicans require the poor and middle class bear the burden of getting our fiscal house back in order while the wealthy are asked to do nothing. So much for shared sacrifice. And so much for the long-term good of the nation, since cutting education and infrastructure to balance the budget is lousy policy.

Republican demands are a triumph of ideology over practicality. Is there no longer a constituency for reality-based governance?

Posted by: dsimon on February 28, 2011 at 10:44 AM | PERMALINK

We spent the money already. We've been spending it for thirty years. Now the bill has come due. The only question is, who will pay the bill. The same people who spent the money or their children and grandchildren. I'd gladly take an increase in taxes if it means the top 10% (or20%) pay at the same rate that Ronald Reagan left them with.Just as long as the extra revenue goes to pay down the debt. Conservatives can't complain about that can they?

Posted by: atlliberal on February 28, 2011 at 10:46 AM | PERMALINK

I don't have the link here at work. But Florida's governor and Arch Criminal Rick Scott is recently quoted as saying, "Taxes are outrageously high." Whereas, we all know, historically they are very low. Especially for the wealthy.

Where are the teaching graphs on the msm? Where are the democrats calling out the lies? Where is the president? The lies go unchallenged.

As you say Steve, "this is not going to end well."

Posted by: foghorn on February 28, 2011 at 10:48 AM | PERMALINK

atlliberal: "I'd gladly take an increase in taxes if it means the top 10% (or20%) pay at the same rate that Ronald Reagan left them with.Just as long as the extra revenue goes to pay down the debt. Conservatives can't complain about that can they?"

Yes they can. The predominant Republican ideology seems to be that no taxes can ever be raised on anyone. We can't more tightly focus the home mortgage interest deduction (which amounts to a subsidy of close to $100 billion per year) because that would effectively raise taxes on some people, even those who would buy their homes anyway (including many in that top 10 or 20%, who get the biggest benefit from the subsidy). We can't close the "carried interest" loophole, because someone's taxes would go up even though the loophole makes no sense. Some business groups want to lower corporate tax rates but won't agree to eliminating exemptions and exceptions, even if done so in a way that's revenue-neutral overall.

Again, it's ideology dominating over reality. And unless we let reality into our policymaking, it won't end well.

Posted by: dsimon on February 28, 2011 at 11:04 AM | PERMALINK

phil perspective: i agree. but the point is that they've masked this desire under the label of "deficit reduction."

the reality is that they are not interested in deficit reduction: they're interested in defense spending, agricultural support spending, not touching my medicare even if the money is being spent foolishly, and lower taxes, and those are the only things they are interested in.

almost by definition, once you rule out cutting defense spending, opposition to government programs, with rare exception, is opposition to programs meant to equalize, which be further definition, are just the sort of programs progressives favor.

Posted by: howard on February 28, 2011 at 11:14 AM | PERMALINK

Republicans might go along with tax hikes on the lower and middle class. The sticking point is that they will insist that government revenue not be allowed to go up. That means that any increases in taxes for the lower earners must be "balanced" by more tax cuts for the affluent. This is the explicit result from adop0ting Ryan's budget proposals.

Posted by: wordtypist on February 28, 2011 at 11:22 AM | PERMALINK

I've said from day one that any long term deficit reduction deal will have to include meaningful tax increases and that the REpublicans in Congress will not agree to this. If Coburn, Crapo and Chambliss are in fact accepting this in principle as part of their negotiations (which would surprise me given what we know about the House and Senate Republican caucuses), they will not be able to sell it to their colleagues.

It doesn't matter that virtually every significant economist says that you can't responsibly accomplish this goal without tax increases; it is an article of religious faith in the GOP that there can't be tax increases To go against this doctrine is to invite excommunication, and it just won't happen.

The Republican Party has locked itself into an increasingly rigid orthodoxy. Even if individual members wanted to escape these restrictions, they can't. Even if they were inclined to try to compromise, they can't.

Posted by: DRF on February 28, 2011 at 11:46 AM | PERMALINK

Tax hike, wha????

You mean the thing we've needed since we started our two 3 trillion dollars occupations? That tax hike? Well Jesus Fish-Fucking Taco! You really mean it or are you just toying with reality again?

Posted by: Trollop on February 28, 2011 at 12:11 PM | PERMALINK

The destructive buffoons have the breaking wind at their backs ...

Posted by: neil b on February 28, 2011 at 12:33 PM | PERMALINK

I don't think it best to say, they consider a tax increase on anyone unacceptable. Many of them gripe about the lower earners paying at lower rates than the higher "earners."

Posted by: neil b on February 28, 2011 at 12:37 PM | PERMALINK

i think it's time to tell these guys to go fuck themselves. we really don't need to be cutting spending, and we really do need to raise taxes.

end of story.

Posted by: just bill on February 28, 2011 at 2:31 PM | PERMALINK

neil b: "I don't think it best to say, they consider a tax increase on anyone unacceptable. Many of them gripe about the lower earners paying at lower rates than the higher 'earners.'"

Yes, there was a meme going around a few years ago about low-earning "lucky duckies" who paid zero net federal taxes or a very low rate (though it's a little unclear whether the subject is income taxes or federal taxes overall). It started in the Wall Street Journal in 2002. There's even a Wikipedia entry on it: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lucky_duckies

Posted by: dsimon on February 28, 2011 at 4:09 PM | PERMALINK

The thing that really baffles me, is that the very same people who voted these folks into office stand to lose the most from their grossly misguided and corrupt policies. I mean, come on people! How many times do you need to get kicked in the gut before you realize whose doing the kicking?
-Gene

Posted by: Gene on March 1, 2011 at 8:42 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

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