I touched on this yesterday, but let’s take a closer look at John Boehner’s opening offer on revenue, designed to avoid the fiscal slope (it’s not a cliff). I think it will become familiar to you if you look at the exact language.
For the purposes of forging a bipartisan agreement that begins to solve the problem, we’re willing to accept new revenue under the right conditions. What matters is where the increase revenue comes from and what type of reform comes with it. Does the increased revenue come from government taking a larger share of what the American people earn through higher taxe rates? Or does it come as a byproduct of growing our economy, energized by a simpler, cleaner, fairer tax code, with fewer loopholes and lower rates for all? And at the same time we’re reforming the tax code, are we supporting growth by taking concrete steps to put our country’s entitlement programs on a sounder financial footing or are we just going to continue to duck the matter of entitlements, thus the root of the problem?
So Boehner is calling for an across the board rate cut, paid for by (and actually with a revenue gain from) closing loopholes and deductions. All the while, he wants to “reform” entitlements to reduce the cost to government.
Now where have I heard that before? Oh yeah, it’s the Mitt Romney platform. The one defeated at the polls. Boehner’s opening bid is just the Romney tax plan, made even more ludicrous by the notion that you can increase revenue with it. Romney was widely mocked during the election for trying to make a large rate cut revenue-neutral; here Boehner wants to add to the fantasy world. He also alludes to the idea that lowering tax rates will increase economic growth and therefore tax receipts. This is precisely the claim that was debunked by the Congressional Research Service study of 65 years of tax rates, which Republicans found so dissonant and offensive, they got the study torpedoed.
Boehner’s lower-the-rates, broaden-the-base gambit has already been rejected by the likes of Chuck Schumer. He’s already blown up the tax reform con. And he got backed up by the Democratic leadership in the Senate. So if it comes back, we know exactly where it came from – the White House.
Apparently the President was busy calling leaders of Congress yesterday:
In phone calls made overnight and this morning from Chicago, Obama said much the same thing to Boehner, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). He said he believed that the American people sent a message that leaders in both parties need to put aside their partisan interests and work with common purpose to put the interests of the American people and the American economy first.
Boehner said yesterday that “We’re closer than many think to the critical mass needed legislatively to get tax reform done.” Which I suppose he has to say. But he’s offering nothing more than the Romney tax plan, PLUS cuts to Social Security and Medicare! And he wants a $100 billion in spending cuts, replacing the sequester, by the end of the year, as a show of good faith in getting to a deal.
It’s like campaign 2012 never happened.