Bloomberg Blasts GOP's "Partisan Nonsense" On Taxes

August 10, 2011 12:09 pm ET — Matt Finkelstein

Rep. Eric Cantor

Risking an economic disaster in order to advance conservative policy goals paid off for Republicans — the economy was a "hostage that's worth ransoming," as Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) explained — but it did not stop Standard & Poor's from downgrading America's credit rating. In fact, the ratings agency explicitly cited Republican brinksmanship and the party's refusal to consider any increases in tax revenue in its announcement.

Yet, Republican leaders are promising more of the same ideological rigidity moving forward, even though polls show consistent support for higher taxes on the rich. In a scathing column today, the editors of Bloomberg denounce congressional Republicans for abandoning "common sense and compromise" in favor of "partisan nonsense."

President Barack Obama called again this week for a deficit-reduction plan that includes both new revenue and spending cuts, a solution that he said would require "common sense and compromise." Alas, we have seen little of either quality from Speaker John Boehner and the House majority leader, Eric Cantor. The Republican leaders reiterated their determination to oppose any solution to the U.S. fiscal mess that involves revenue increases.

Whatever one thinks of the validity of Standard & Poor's decision to downgrade U.S. debt, it contained an admonition that we should take seriously: Spending cuts alone won't be sufficient to place the debt, and by extension, the economy, on a sustainable path. In a memo to his Republican colleagues, Cantor warned that S&P's analysis put the party under "pressure to compromise on tax increases" on the ground that there is "no other way forward." His response: "I respectfully disagree."

As always, the Republican leaders justified their intransigence by invoking the demons of job-killing taxes that would suppress the dynamism of overtaxed Americans, hampering growth. [...]

This is partisan nonsense.

The editorial proceeds to note that taxes are historically low — contrary to Republican talking points, there is a "revenue problem" — and that tax increases, including the ones President Reagan enacted in a severe economic downturn, have not stifled growth in the past.

Blooomberg isn't alone in its frustration with Republicans. The Economist previously condemned the party's anti-tax orthodoxy as "economically literate and disgracefully cynical." Likewise, former Republican Sen. Alan Simpson has described his party's opposition to new revenues as "ludicrous," and former George W. Bush adviser David Frum has criticized Republicans for "protecting every single loophole, giveaway and boondoggle in the tax code as a matter of fundamental conservative principle."

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