South Carolina’s Tea Party backed Senator Jim DeMint threw down the gauntlet to Republican members of the secret super committee and the Republican leadership in a tough “no net tax increase” letter signed by 33 Republican senators. The letter, and the support DeMint has rallied behind it, makes it clear the $600 billion tax hike Republicans floated last week is a nonstarter for conservatives.
DeMint’s principled stand against the efforts of insider Republicans to institutionalize the vast increase in spending that began when Democrats took over Congress in 2006 and has accelerated under President Obama is a stark contrast to the letter 40 Republican House members signed earlier this week.
The letter DeMint and his colleagues signed said that any deficit-reduction deal should also “balance our budget within 10 years, place entitlements on a path to fiscal solvency” and include “comprehensive tax reform that lowers rates and promotes economic growth.”
Interestingly, three of the signers of DeMint’s letter were the Republican members of the so-called Gang of Six, Senators Saxby Chambliss of Georgia, Tom Coburn of Oklahoma and Michael D. Crapo of Idaho, whose earlier deficit-reduction plan included tax changes that could raise additional revenue.
On the other hand the House letter circulated by Republican Mike Simpson of Idaho, said “all options” for revenues should be on the table, and included a number of Republicans who appeared to be prepared to break the pledge they made to Grover Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform not to raise taxes.
Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner continued to muddy the waters on the Republican position on taxes by saying “there is room for revenue” in a deal to reduce the deficit, but then tried to clarify that such revenue would not come from a tax increase on individuals or businesses, but from increases in fees, co-payments and one-time sources, such as sales of excess government property.
Boehner has become increasingly involved in the super committee’s deliberations and, according to The Hill newspaper, has met for three consecutive days with Republican members of the panel. The GOP members last week made a $2.2 trillion offer that included, by their calculations, $640 billion in new revenue from fees, insurance changes, increased economic growth and a change in the way inflation is calculated for government programs that the DeMint letter took to task.
Claiming deficit reduction on the basis of yet-to-be-seen increased economic growth and a change in the way inflation is calculated for government programs is one of the worst kind of lies Washington insiders perpetrate on their fellow citizens. Speaker John Boehner and Republican leaders, such as Eric Cantor, Kevin McCarthy and Jeb Hensarling, all know the cost of government is not what it taxes, it is what it spends. The problem that Boehner and other insider Republicans have is that they just can’t bring themselves to say “the government doesn't need any more money” and confront the Democrats over spending. They refuse to adopt the principled position that Jim DeMint has taken because deep down inside they are part of the problem – the looting of America by Washington’s inside elite.