House conservatives contradict themselves on tax increases
On Thursday, 72 members of the Republican Study Committee sent a letter to the debt-reduction supercommittee that urged them to rule out any tax increases whatsoever as part of the deal, Roll Call reported. Pushing back against a proposal by fellow Republican Sen. Patrick Toomey to cut some tax credits and deductions, the RSC demanded that even the closure of tax loopholes beoffset by tax cuts, which would effectively erase that option as a way to slash the deficit.
Increasing taxes on Americans would destroy jobs, erase all hope of an economic recovery, and simply serve to feed out-of-control spending in Washington. Thus, as you continue the important task to reach a deficit reduction agreement, we ask that any policies the Joint Select Committee prescribes not increase Americans’ tax burden...we believe that marginal rates must be maintained or lowered and that repeal of any tax credit or deduction be offset with an equal or greater tax cut.
But just two weeks ago, Roll Call pointed out, seven of those same RSC members—Reps. John Duncan, Paul Gosar, Mike Kelly, Ron Paul, Phil Roe, Marlin Stutzman and John Sullivan—were among the 100-plus House members who signed a “go-big” letter that asked the supercommittee to keep everything on the table, including revenues.
We all, both Democrats and Republicans, know that we will not be able to get to $4 trillion in deficit reduction unless everything is on the table. Congress must have the political courage to have an honest discussion about all options, or we may soon find that we have run out of options. This is why our letter also urges the Super Committee to put forth a plan that looks at long-term entitlement reforms, the yearly discretionary budget, and government revenues.
These opposing views has already led to a split within the party, as my colleague Peter Wallsten has explained. But now it’s putting some GOP members at odds with themselves. One could argue that these Republicans have shifted their position as the supercommittee debate itself has shifted. Earlier this month, it might have seemed more possible that the supercommittee could achieve a “grand bargain”—the only condition under which these Republicans would give way on taxes and Democrats would support major changes to entitlements. Now that the deadline is approaching and “going big” no longer seems to be a feasible option, these conservatives may be changing their strategy to ensure that the GOP doesn’t give away too much or get too little in return.
“A bad deal is worse than no deal,” Rep. Joe Walsh (R-Ill.), an RSC member, told me Wednesday.