Boehner's Fear of a Tax Increase

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
May 10 2011 10:26 AM

Boehner's Fear of a Tax Increase

Early yesterday evening, the Speaker's office published the entirety of his speech to the Economic Club of New York. The debt limit stuff had been telegraphed; I covered that yesterday. The portion about whether taxes can ever be raised was not previewed.

I ran for Congress in 1990, the year our nation's leaders struck a so-called bargain that raised taxes as part of a bipartisan plan to balance the budget.

The result of that so-called bargain was the recession of the early 1990s. It wasn't until the economy picked back up toward the end of that decade that we achieved a balanced budget.

Today some seem intent on recycling the 1990 budget deal, only this time with much larger tax increases.

That's not going to happen, and I've told that to the president. A tax hike would wreak havoc not only on our economy's ability to create private-sector jobs, but also on our ability to tackle the national debt.

David Weigel David Weigel

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

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It's not exactly settled that the tax increase of 1990 caused the recession. There were a lot of causes -- the S&L aftermath, Middle East unrest, Fed policy, etc and etc. Tax policy didn't help, but that barely matters. What matters it that are several Republican articles of faith on taxes. To name three.

1) Tax cuts increase revenue.

2) The economy grew out of recession the 1980s because Reagan cut taxes.

3) The tax hike of 1990 hurt the economy and led to the defeat of George H.W. Bush, proving for all time that there is no upside to a deal with Democrats on taxes.

The first point is objectively untrue; the second and third points are debatable. Republicans don't think they're debatable. Boehner certainly doesn't. And so: No discussion about tax increases on any horizon, as revenue stays meager and stagnant.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

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