Can you hear the drumbeat?
As the pre-Thanksgiving deadline for the super committee to produce $1.2 trillion in budget cuts nears, the drumbeat from the media and Democrats becomes more and more insistent: will GOP members of the super committee have the courage to raise taxes?
Poor, gentle George H.W. Bush (“Bar, they say I can be a statesman if I raise taxes…”) heard the drumbeat and reneged on his “read my lips” pledge. That was, in the opinion of many, when he lost his presidency. Will Republicans fall for it this time?
Wall Street Journal economics writer Stephen Moore proposes this morning that there is a distinct possibility that Republicans will be Bush-whacked again:
House Speaker John Boehner may have opened the gate to a tax increase last week when he declared that "there is room for revenue," though he also said there will be "no tax increase."
Mr. Boehner also said that "without real reform on the entitlement side, I'm not even going to put any new revenue on the table."
These are exactly the kinds equivocations we heard from Mr. Bush in the weeks before his ill-fated grand bargain with then-Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell.
Added cause for concern, 40 House Republicans came out last week with a statement that they would endorse increased “revenues” in a budget deal.
The tragic thing is that raising “revenues” isn’t necessary. As Rep. Jeb Hensarling was quoted saying in Moore’s column yesterday:
"I can find $1.5 trillion of budget savings in my sleep," says Jeb Hensarling, the Republican co-chairman of the 12-member deficit reduction committee. "The hard part is getting six Democrats to agree to do it."
Fred Barnes reports in the Weekly Standard that there are two deals before the super committee, one is good and one is very, very bad:
There appear to be two possible outlines of a plan taking shape, one good, one terrible. To attract the GOP Six, the good plan would be built around tax reform, with either income or corporate tax rates (or both) reduced or frozen, while corporate welfare was scraped from the tax code—loopholes, breaks, and special writeoffs, possibly including those Obama has denounced for corporate jet owners and oil companies. Would any Democrats go along? Senators Max Baucus and John Kerry, maybe. And if Senate majority leader Harry Reid blessed the deal, Patty Murray, his surrogate on the panel, probably would. This is Deal A.
Deal B is what might happen should Deal A fall by the wayside. More conventional, it would consist of some formula of tax hikes and spending cuts. Democrats want “balance,” a 50-50 split. Conservatives are worried three Republicans on the supercommittee—House members Dave Camp and Fred Upton and Senator Rob Portman—might accept Deal B as a last resort. Not likely, unless Boehner and McConnell anointed the deal.
Republicans on the super committee should remember George H.W. Bush, a very nice man who listened to the drumbeat.