As I previewed yesterday, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) is intent on presenting important topics that perhaps are getting short shrift in the presidential race. Part of his skill is in explaining what the president is up to. One particularly noteworthy section of Ryan’s speech today will cover the tax debate:
Let’s say we took all the income from those the President calls “rich” — those making $250,000 or more. A 100 percent tax rate on their total annual income would only fund the government for six months. Just six months!
What about some of the other tax hikes the President likes to talk about? Under the President’s policies, deficits are set to rise by a whopping $9.5 trillion over the next 10 years.
●Letting the top two tax rates expire would reduce those planned deficits by roughly 8 percent.
●Eliminating tax subsidies for oil and gas companies would shave 0.5 percent off of the President’s planned deficits.
●And what about corporate jet owners? That provision would reduce deficits by roughly 0.03 percent.
Look, I’m all for closing tax loopholes — but you can’t close our nation’s deficits by chasing ever-higher spending with politically motivated tax hikes here and there. Instead, tax reform must broaden the base and lower rates.
In that simple bit of transparent math, Ryan rips away much of the Democrats’ canard about tax hikes and the amount of revenue to be obtained by drenching the rich.
Ryan can then present the Republicans’ own ideas in terms that are easy to understand:
Lately, the President has been fond of taking Ronald Reagan quotes out of context, in an effort to persuade Republicans that Reagan would have agreed with the idea of using fear and envy to push a partisan agenda of permanently higher taxes.
Every time he does this, I can picture him shaking his head: “There you go again.”
Obama quotes Reagan as saying that bus drivers shouldn’t pay a higher effective tax rate than millionaires. Well, that’s a no-brainer. Nobody disagrees with that.
But it is simply disingenuous to use this quote as evidence that Reagan would have supported the tax increases that Obama wants Congress to pass.
Reagan was attempting to build support for the landmark 1986 tax reform, a revenue-neutral law that reformed the tax code by lowering tax rates while broadening the tax base.
Reagan’s point — which President Obama clearly missed — was not that we should raise tax rates to chase out-of-control spending in Washington.
His point was that we should get rid of loopholes that are exploited by the few, so that we could lower everyone’s tax rates and help the economy grow.
The House-passed budget included this kind of tax reform, which many agree would provide an immediate boost to the economy. Our budget proposed getting rid of scores of loopholes, lowering the hurdles for job creation and economic growth, and making our tax code fair, simple, and competitive.
In his address to Congress last month, the President said he agrees in principle with this kind of reform, especially when it comes to the uncompetitive way we tax our businesses.
This made Republicans think, well, we might have an opportunity here for the kind of genuine consensus-building that the President talked about as a candidate.
Yet he chose not to pursue this kind of tax reform. Instead, he sent us a partisan bill filled with the same stimulus proposals that failed two years ago, only this time he also asked for permanent tax hikes to go with them.
Here he both debunks the misappropriation of Reagan and explains the methodology behind tax reform.
It’s like watching professional sports — the pros make it seem so easy. But the temptation, as we have seen again and again by candidates and officials on the right, is to talk in generalities, make the fight personal and forget to explain how the conservative principles can benefit average Americans. It is easy, especially in the midst of a presidential Republican primary, to assume that positions are self-evident (e.g., you can’t raise taxes enough to meet Obama’s domestic spending). Politicians assume too much and expect too little from voters.
If Ryan can influence the presidential race both by pointing to workable policies and by modeling rhetoric effective in reaching beyond conservative partisans, he will make a huge contribution to the GOP. Republican presidential candidates should pay close attention. There will be more speeches to come in the weeks and months ahead, I am told.