Mitch McConnell Cites a GOP Tax Hike Deal to Say GOP Won't Hike Taxes

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Oct. 17 2013 3:13 PM

Mitch McConnell Cites a GOP Tax Hike Deal to Say GOP Won't Hike Taxes

184798110
Mitch McConnell has a selective memory of Ronald Reagan and Tip O'Neill's deal on Social Security.

Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images

Man of the hour Robert Costa sits down with Mitch McConnell, and most of the early reaction to their chat seems to focus on the Senate minority leader's precognition. When did he realize the shutdown strategy would end in capitulation? July! Good on him, and good on Rand Paul for slinking out of the picture and allowing McConnell to operate without new pressure on his right.

What I take from the interview is that the coming budget conference is beginning where the last round died.

When the speaker has had conversations with the president over the last three years, they have always insisted on a $1 trillion tax increase — revenue scored by the Congressional Budget Office. That’s their demand for any major entitlement reform. But we don’t think we should have to pay a ransom to do what the country needs. And until you adjust the eligibility for entitlements to fit the demographics of our country, you can’t ever solve the problem. You can’t tax your way out of it.
Advertisement

The "ransom" is tax increases, now—excellent shifting of the frames. McConnell is suggesting, as Paul Ryan suggests, that the only tax reforms worth discussing are revenue-neutral or "dynamically scored," meaning tax cuts that can be interpreted as possible economy-growers. The argument is sort of undermined when McConnell says this.

Take the decision by Reagan and Tip O’Neill to raise the age of Social Security; we never went back and revisited it, and it saved Social Security for a generation. 

Wait—that's not all that happened in the Reagan/O'Neill deal! Their compromise raised the retirement age, yes, but it also raised taxes. It moved up the schedule for employer/employee tax hikes, and it made up to half of Social Security benefits taxable as income. That was the point—Democrats had to swallow entitlement cuts, while Republicans (in those pre-Norquist days) had to swallow tax increases.

While I was writing this post, I got a queasy rush of déjà vu. A quick search reminds me that McConnell said the exact same thing about Reagan/O'Neill in May of 2011, before the Budget Control Act passed.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

TODAY IN SLATE

Medical Examiner

The Most Terrifying Thing About Ebola 

The disease threatens humanity by preying on humanity.

I Bought the Huge iPhone. I’m Already Thinking of Returning It.

Scotland Is Just the Beginning. Expect More Political Earthquakes in Europe.

Students Aren’t Going to College Football Games as Much Anymore

And schools are getting worried.

Two Damn Good, Very Different Movies About Soldiers Returning From War

The XX Factor

Lifetime Didn’t Think the Steubenville Rape Case Was Dramatic Enough

So they added a little self-immolation.

Politics

Blacks Don’t Have a Corporal Punishment Problem

Americans do. But when blacks exhibit the same behaviors as others, it becomes part of a greater black pathology. 

Why a Sketch of Chelsea Manning Is Stirring Up Controversy

How Worried Should Poland, the Baltic States, and Georgia Be About a Russian Invasion?

Trending News Channel
Sept. 19 2014 1:11 PM Watch Flashes of Lightning Created in a Lab  
  News & Politics
Weigel
Sept. 20 2014 11:13 AM -30-
  Business
Business Insider
Sept. 20 2014 6:30 AM The Man Making Bill Gates Richer
  Life
Quora
Sept. 20 2014 7:27 AM How Do Plants Grow Aboard the International Space Station?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 19 2014 11:33 AM Planned Parenthood Is About to Make It a Lot Easier to Get Birth Control
  Slate Plus
Slate Picks
Sept. 19 2014 12:00 PM What Happened at Slate This Week? The Slatest editor tells us to read well-informed skepticism, media criticism, and more.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 20 2014 3:21 PM “The More You Know (About Black People)” Uses Very Funny PSAs to Condemn Black Stereotypes
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 19 2014 5:03 PM White House Chief Information Officer Will Run U.S. Ebola Response
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 21 2014 8:00 AM An Astronaut’s Guided Video Tour of Earth
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.