GOP Aide: “No New Tax Increases” Pledge Is Intellectually Dishonest

Republicans are playing politics with the National Debt. Please don't tell me you're shocked.

Further signs that the Norquist Orthodoxy on taxes isn’t as widely accepted in the GOP as we’re led to believe:

A senior GOP aid I spoke with, who asked that his name be withheld to speak freely, said the Republicans’ no-tax-increase stance wasn’t “intellectually honest” in the real world.

“There are two worlds,” the source said. “One world is political, and the sole objective is to maintain party message. The other world is real, and in the real world, fixing the deficit is a matter of national survival. When you get down to the real world decisions, it’s not about whether to raise taxes. It’s about the ratio of spending to revenue increases. That’s the issue.”

I repeated the question: Are you saying that the GOP’s utter resistance to revenue increases is political? The aide responded: “Yeah.” The source indicated that spending cuts should vastly outweigh tax increases, but that the final solution will probably be a blend.

For some inexplicable reason, the suggestion that politicians were being political came as a shock to The Atlantic’s Derek Thompson, who relayed the above exchange:

There’s nothing news-making about politicians being political and playing games of chicken with national policy. But I had never spoken to a GOP spokesperson, on or off the record, who had drawn such a clear distinction between the party’s position against tax increases and the real-world need to raise tax revenue, even if slightly. (The source was equally damning of Democrats, who, the source said, dissembled when they talked about fixing the budget on the back of tax hikes for the rich and cuts to defense.)

The two-world frame is a brilliantly useful device. The next time you judge politicians talking about the deficit, ask yourself: To what world world do they belong? Republicans who say we can fix the budget while keeping taxes at historically low rates? They’re in the political world. Democrats who say we can fix the budget by sparing 98 percent of tax payers and by concentrating all our cuts in defense? They’re in the political world.

Really Derek? Politics in Washington, who would’ve known. I’m shocked:

Of course, what GOP aides say anonymously and what they do in public are two different things. With 2012 approaching, it seems highly unlikely that the GOP would be willing to compromise on the tax issue, even though it seems fairly clear that they know it’s inevitable that there will be tax increases of some kind at some point. On the Democratic side, there doesn’t seem to be much likelihood that they will be willing to compromise on spending cuts, and will instead stick to their absurd notion that all we need to to do balance the budget is raise taxes on “the rich.”  In reality, as the anonymous GOP aide said to Thompson, what we need is a package that combines spending cuts and tax increases. Realistically, it’s the only way deficit reduction is going to happen. Politically, it’s unlikely to happen any time before 2013 because both parties think they can use this issue to victory. In the meantime, the ball gets punted at least another two years down the road, with the probability that the pain will be worse nearly inevitable at this point.

FILED UNDER: Congress, Deficit and Debt, US Politics
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. ratufa says:

    With 2012 approaching, it seems highly unlikely that the GOP would be willing to compromise on the tax issue

    That ‘s a pretty good indicator of how screwed we are. It’s only May 2011 and it’s too late to talk about compromise. In May 2009, people had their eyes on the 2010 elections. Etc.

    And, yeah, lots of what we hear is political posturing.. What a surprise. Though, that doesn’t mean there aren’t lots of people in Washington who actually believe the BS that is being emitted by various sides in our budget debate.

  2. Scott O. says:

    all we need to to do balance the budget is raise taxes on “the rich.”

    Who’s saying that? I don’t doubt that some Democrat somewhere has uttered these words but I haven’t heard that stated as the party’s position.

  3. reid says:

    On the Democratic side, there doesn’t seem to be much likelihood that they will be willing to compromise on spending cuts, and will instead stick to their absurd notion that all we need to to do balance the budget is raise taxes on “the rich.”

    Uh, what? The Democrats have been the great compromisers and have agreed to relatively large spending cuts. They are the ones that have been proposing a mix of spending cuts and tax increases, just as you say. What are you talking about? Sounds like false equivalency to make them both sound bad.

  4. ponce says:

    If the Republicans lose the greedy rich they’re in real trouble.

    Speaking of the greedy rich,. why no OTB posts on Raj Rajaratnam’s conviction after a trial that saw a huge number of America’s corporate “elites” caught acting liking like the petty thieves they are?

  5. Hey Norm says:

    I believe I read of Obama talking about 2/3rds spending cuts and 1/3 revenue increases. And the Dems are looking at closing loopholes as opposed to tax rate increases. So which party is being political and which is operating in the real world?
    (Although I have to say that a party operating in the political world probably shouldn’t have proposed abolishing Medicare.)

  6. anjin-san says:

    all we need to to do balance the budget is raise taxes on “the rich.”

    Can you could come up with even a single citation for this?

    If you want to write fiction, there are plenty of places to do it. Perhaps here you could put some effort in and make your BS at least halfway believable….

  7. john personna says:

    Nordquist has to rank as one of the individuals most damaging to the nation in its history.

    He really preached an idiocy (“don’t do the math”), and got it accepted.

  8. ken says:

    Instead of looking to ideology why not just look at the historical record.

    History shows us that we have never been able to reduce any of our deficits by cutting taxes. Every single instance of tax cuts has ALWAYS led to higher, not lower, deficits.

    History also demonstrates, rather conclusively, that tax hikes can lead to budget surpluses along with a booming economy.

  9. john personna says:

    BTW, Talyor talks about taxes as religion, Nordquist as passionate priest, definitely.

  10. Wayne says:

    And the Democrats are not playing politics with the National Debt?

    Reid what large spending cuts have the Democrats agreed to?

  11. reid says:

    Wayne, am I incorrect in remembering an agreement recently that amounted to about $39B in cuts? The Democrats certainly have been open to cuts in spending, very much unlike the almost religious opposition to tax increases on the right. Despite what Doug wrote.

  12. ponce says:

    Wayne, am I incorrect in remembering an agreement recently that amounted to about $39B in cuts?

    IIRC, those $39 billion in cuts turned out to actually be $300 million in cuts.

  13. reid says:

    IIRC, those $39 billion in cuts turned out to actually be $300 million in cuts.

    I vaguely remember something like that, though I don’t remember the details. Still, I think my point is valid and Doug’s comment bizarre.

  14. Those darned Republicans. If only they’d act more like the honest Democrats whose hearts are pure.

  15. mantis says:

    IIRC, those $39 billion in cuts turned out to actually be $300 million in cuts.

    You’re confused about the difference between budgets and outlays.

  16. reid says:

    And Charles throws down a snarky logic fail.

  17. Uh huh, it failed because Democrats aren’t playing games with the national debt? Or because their hearts really are pure? Please enlighten me.

  18. anjin-san says:

    Charles… I see you are taking you whine de jour across multiple threads. Well I suppose it is easier then, you know, thinking.

  19. reid says:

    Whatever, Charles, I thought maybe you were better than that.

  20. Tlaloc says:

    Uh huh, it failed because Democrats aren’t playing games with the national debt? Or because their hearts really are pure? Please enlighten me.

    The GOP decided it wanted to play pretend that the debt was an existential threat and the dems let them because it helps highlight the GOP’s hypocrisy of cuting taxes on the wealthy while screwing the poor.

    If you choose to squawk about the sky falling don’t blame us for selling you an umbrella at an inflated price. You asked for it.

  21. Yes, I’m an unfeeling, unthnking torture cheerleader who’s beneath whatever moral or rhetorical standard you wish to establish. Now, you were saying…

  22. Tlaloc says:

    No, I think that pretty much covers it. Thanks!

  23. sam says:

    I think you kinda hard on Derek, Doug. I think he was shocked that a Republican would commit this act of anti-anti-tax cut sacrilege:

    There’s nothing news-making about politicians being political and playing games of chicken with national policy. But I had never spoken to a GOP spokesperson, on or off the record, who had drawn such a clear distinction between the party’s position against tax increases and the real-world need to raise tax revenue, even if slightly.

  24. I don’t know why you guys care. No one listens to me. I might as well be a Leonard Cohen record.