Rep. Scott Rigell Says Fellow Republicans “Not Dealing With Reality” In Debt Debate

November 15, 2011 1:34 pm ET — Walid Zafar

Despite the fact that the federal government's revenue is historically low, congressional Republicans continue to insist that there is no revenue problem and that the deficit is wholly the product of government overspending. As we've highlighted on several occasions, this simplistic explanation is not supported by the facts and is an effort to distract from the fact that President Bush's policies, including the two massive tax cuts enacted in the early part of the last decade, continue to add to the deficit.

Speaking on the House floor last night, Rep. Scott Rigell (R-VA) called out members of his Republican caucus for not dealing with the facts of the revenue crisis. "These are the numbers. It's not how you feel. It's where the numbers lead us," Rigell said.

RIGELL: Now, I would say to my friends who are Democrats, let's consider this. Historically, we've been around 19 percent of expenses as a percent of our gross domestic product. Right now, we're over 24.5 percent. This is putting America on a perilous course and I believe that it threatens our country in a fundamental way. Now, to my republican colleagues, let's look at the other side. Historically, we've been around 18 percent, plus or minus, revenue as a percent of gross domestic product. And right now, we're less than 15 percent. That, too, is a problem. Any Republican who will not admit to this or to confront it and discuss it head on, is not dealing with reality. These are the numbers. It's not how you feel. It's where the numbers lead us. We need to be a leadership team here, a body that respects, seeks out, and is guided by the facts.


While it's refreshing to see a member of the Republican Party accept real numbers for what they are, Rigell tempers his criticism of Republican dishonesty by suggesting that Democrats refuse to admit that government is spending is higher than the historical average. There really is no equivalence here since there aren't many Democrats, let alone Democrats in any leadership positions, who've argued that there is no spending problem or who are unwilling to accept spending cuts.

In the super committee negotiations, Democrats have proposed massive cuts to federal spending, including cuts to many programs that are near and dear to the party's base and platform. But most Republicans have thus far opposed any meaningful revenue increases and have supported their intransigence by repeating the line that there is no revenue problem. Some Republicans have irresponsibly, and without any evidence, even made the claim that further tax cuts would increase revenue.