Boehner: Tax Hikes Are Off The Table
Following up on his comments last night on negotiations to raise the debt ceiling, Speaker John Boehner drew another line in the sand this morning:
Asked about the new line in the sand he drew Monday night on the debt limit and how he thought, given the contentious nature of the debate, both sides could work together, Boehner said, “It’s time to look each other in the eye and do what we know has to be done.”
On the subject of the tea party’s criticism of Boehner’s work on the budget, Boehner seemed unfazed. “I’m a regular guy with a big job,” he said. “This impending debt load on our kids has to be dealt with and it will be dealt with.”
Boehner was firm, however, on the subject of a potential tax increase as a solution to the debt. Keeping to the party line, Boehner insisting that a tax increase would be a job killer. Asked about the rise in unemployment in the period after the Bush tax cuts, Boehner insisted that the tax cuts created “about 8 million jobs over the first 10 years that they were in existence,” and that the decrease in employment could be blamed on the recession, not the tax cuts.
Asked point blank if tax increases were off the table, Boehner was adamant: “It is off the table, everything else is on the table.”
This really shouldn’t be all that surprising. A month ago, the House GOP clearly signaled that tax cuts were a non-starter in the Lower House. At that time I wrote:
Rhetoric like this certainly will resonate well with the base, but I’ve got to wonder if it makes sense in the long term. I’m no fan of increasing taxes on anyone, but I cannot see how a comprehensive deal to fix the budget mess in Washington can be done without tax increases, or the broader subject of tax reform, being on the table. Moreover, there are a host of good economic reasons to sit down and talk about simplifying the Internal Revenue Code, which costs individuals and businesses huge amounts of money in compliance costs every years. There are plenty of loopholes to close, plenty of sweetheart tax credits that should be examined, and plenty of supposedly sacrosanct deductions (like the home mortgage interest deduction) that make no economic sense. We could simplify the tax code, not touch the marginal rates, and in all likelihood we’d end up with increased government revenues.
Instead of doing that, though, House Republicans are sticking to an orthodoxy that may rally the base but doesn’t seem likely to win wider public support. That doesn’t make sense to me.
Here’s the full interview: