Boehner’s latest tax offer is $150 billion less than he offered in 2011

December 3, 2012

Over the weekend, House Speaker John Boehner (R) attached a number to his revenue offer: $800 billion, he said. And there are "a dozen different ways to get there without raising tax rates."


Washington in one photograph. House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and President Obama. (Jewel Samad / AFP/Getty Images)

This came during an interview with Fox News, so it's hard to say how precise Boehner was being. But if $800 billion actually is his target, then as New York University tax professor (and former Obama administration economic official) David Kamin notes, he's actually cut his offer since the 2011 negotiations.

 "Last year," Kamin reminded me, "Boehner had agreed to raise revenue equivalent to expiration of the high-income tax cuts, including allowing the estate tax to go back to '09 parameters. That's $800 billion (well, $819 billion according to the latest Treasury scoring) through 2021. Through 2022  (the current deal-making window), the total is actually $950 billion (or, more exactly, $952 billion according to the same Treasury scoring)."

Boehner's offer from a year ago was meant to be roughly equal to the cost of letting the high-income Bush tax cuts lapse in 2013. But because we measure these things in the "10-year budget window," the revenue was measured from 2012-2021. Thus, the revenue target Boehner was trying to reach included 2012, which was a year when the tax cuts were expected to be kept in place. So though the offer was for a 10-year plan, he was really offering revenue equal to only nine years of letting the tax cuts lapse. That reduced the total revenue he had to raise.

Now, since he has to pay for the expiration of the tax cuts for the full 10 years, a revenue offer equal to the cost of the high-income tax cuts needs to raise about $950 billion, not $800 billion.

So, just to put a fine point on it," Kamin says, "after the President gets reelected, Republicans lose seats, etc., Boehner and leading Republicans appear to be pushing less revenue than they had put on the table last year."

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