Debt Commission's GOP Co-Chair Blasts GOP's "Ludicrous," "Deceptive" Tax Position
Former Sen. Alan Simpson's (R) eccentric speaking flair is well known, but in a phone interview last night on Fox Business the debt commission co-chair turned his sights on his own party's orthodoxy. Addressing the subject of taxes — and the stranglehold that Grover Norquist's "Taxpayer Protection Pledge" has on all but 13 current GOP members of Congress — Simpson suggested Republicans should drop their demand that any revenue brought in by closing tax loopholes be spent on further tax cuts rather than deficit reduction.
After recounting a conversation with Norquist about President Ronald Reagan raising taxes repeatedly "to make the country run," Simpson got specific on the position Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and his leadership team have taken against raising revenues. "If you take a tax expenditure, which is a tax earmark, which is spending by any other name, and have the guts to call that a tax increase?" Simpson said. "Tom Coburn was right, that's not only ludicrous, it's deceptive."
HOST: Alright so do you think that Grover Norquist is hurting the debate?
SIMPSON: Well lemme tell ya, give him credit, if he's got more power than the President of the United States he oughta get in and run someday. But I'll tell you honestly, that guy is something, because he is sticking it to the American people. His hero Ronald Reagan raised [inaudible] times in his [inaudible] years, and Grover said, "I didn't like that at all, oh boy." I said, well he did it, why the hell do you think he did it? He said, "I dunno, I'm very disappointed." I said, he did it to make the country run, Grover babe!
HOST: Grover Norquist would say, look, why give this government another nickel when they've been so incompetent and pathetic with protecting the taxpayers' dollar?
SIMPSON: Well you don't, you take it and put it against the deficit and the debt, you don't strike up a new program, he's deceptive. And if you take a tax expenditure, which is a tax earmark, which is spending by any other name, and have the guts to call that a tax increase? Tom Coburn was right, that's not only ludicrous, it's deceptive.
Simpson is right that Reagan raised taxes (presumably he said "11 times," though Fox Business's animation sound effects cut into his phone feed). He's right that the GOP's opposition to raising revenues is ludicrous. Despite spending a year howling about the debt, Republican leaders from Boehner to Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA) to Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ) are insisting any new tax revenue "be coupled with offsetting tax cuts somewhere else," in Boehner's words. As for "deceptive," it's certainly that too. Recent comments from Cantor, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) show the GOP doesn't really care about the debt; like Norquist admitted to Ezra Klein this spring, it's all about an irrational commitment to small-government ideology.