Hang On: 40 Republican Members of Congress Want Tax Hikes?

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Nov. 3 2011 9:42 AM

Hang On: 40 Republican Members of Congress Want Tax Hikes?

This was lost a bit in the air-sucking maelstrom of Cainmania yesterday, but on first look, it seemed like something new. One hundred members of the House -- including 40 Republicans -- sent an open letter to the supercommittee. Ho-hum, right? Not this time! The letter uses the voodoo incantation of the tax-raiser, which I have bolded below.

To succeed, all options for mandatory and discretionary spending and revenues must be on the table.  In addition, we know from other bipartisan frameworks that a target of some $4 trillion in deficit reduction is necessary to stabilize our debt as a share of the economy and assure America’s fiscal well-being.

Among the Republicans who's signed this: Ron Paul, whose campaign literature says, as it says every year, that he's "never voted for a tax increase." How do you get to "$4 trillion in deficit reduction" without tax increases? You really don't. Rep. Dave Camp, the chairman of Ways and Means, a key supercommittee, and not a signatory of the letter, has talked about starting corporate tax reform as a revenue-raiser, but that would be toward a deal that got us barely to $1.2 trillion of savings, not $4 trillion.

So are we talking about a change-of-heart move toward tax hikes? Not yet. Rep. Devin Nunes, one of the surprise Republican signers, said off the floor yesterday that he was interested in "radical tax reform." The likelihood of that happening in the plan that must be delivered on November 23? Really, really slim.

UPDATE: Ron Paul's campaign spokesman Jesse Benton answers my question, about whether the Champion of the Constitution's signature indicates that he could vote for a plan that raised taxes or closed loopholes.

"No," says Benton. "He will vote against any tax or fee increases."

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 



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