The most astonishing and baffling moment of the Republicans’ so-called “debate” the other night came when the moderator asked the candidates if they would reject a Grand Compromise in which we closed the deficit with ten dollars of spending cuts for every one dollar of tax/revenue “enhancements”/increases.
All eight candidates said they would not accept such a deal.
Talk about refusing to take yes for an answer. That was perhaps the most forehead-slappingly odd moment I’ve seen in decades of watching politics, and that includes the night at the 1984 Democratic Convention in San Francisco when I stood in the hall and watched Walter Mondale commit political suicide by proudly announcing that he would raise taxes if elected.
I’m all for cutting wasteful spending, and God knows there’s plenty of it. I don’t even think it’s “radical” to question whether we need all the gigantic government departments of Education, Commerce, Energy, etc. I wouldn’t object to a sunset provision requiring all of them to re-justify their existence every ten years or so. I see few sacred cows grazing by the Potomac.
But to say that this whole problem can be solved entirely with cuts, and not a single dollar on the revenue side, just seems unbalanced–literally and figuratively. That’s not the way the system works or ever has worked. For God’s sake, just let some of the Bush tax cuts expire on the highest earners. Set the number at $300 K or $500 K or somewhere, and let’s move on. Rejecting any kind of revenue fix, whether through letting the cuts expire or closing various tax loopholes, just doesn’t pass the common sense/fairness test.
As we wait to see if Rick Perry boxes himself in along with the Iowa Eight. (Update Sept. 1–He did.)