McConnell: Tax Cut Deal Didn't Work, But At Least Obama Agreed With Republicans on Taxes

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
June 22 2011 10:02 AM

McConnell: Tax Cut Deal Didn't Work, But At Least Obama Agreed With Republicans on Taxes

At a breakfast for reporters hosted by the Christian Science Monitor, Mitch McConnell said confidently that no tax increases will get through this Congress -- not even as part of brinksmanship over the debt ceiling, even though Democrats wanted to use that to get their increases.

"Let me just give you a little recent history," said McConnell. "If you were an advocate for increasing taxes, I think you'd agree the easiest way to try to get that done would be to draw the line at people making $1 million or over," said McConnell. "$1 million a year or over! Surely that would be something you can get through Congress, right? Well, we had that vote in December, when there were 59 --59! -- Democrats in the Senate. That was the Schumer proposal. They had a majority in the House, and 59 senators, and a president who wants to raise taxes. And yet five Democrats voted with us against the Schumer proposal. They could not get a tax increase on people making $1 million and up through a Congress that they had overwhelming control of. I think I can safely say this Congress isn't going to raise taxes. So why are we still talking about it?"

David Weigel David Weigel

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 


He offered more proof that taxes couldn't be raised soon. "In fact they did the opposite" he said. "I, as you recall, negotiated in December an extension of current tax rates. They still had 59 Democrats and a 40-seat majority in the House when the vice president and I negotiated an extension of the current tax rates, and the president went around and said to do otherwise would be bad for the economy. Now, does anybody in this room think the economy is better now than it was in December? I don't think so. So, look: Taxes aren't going to be raised."

That sounded to me like an admission that the tax cut deal hadn't worked -- which meant extending Bush rates plus adding sweeteners didn't work. And that wasn't what many Republicans were saying in January, when early job numbers pointed to a possible recovery. I asked McConnell to expand on that: If keeping the Bush tax rates wasn't helping the economy any, why would we expect keeping those rates, or lowering them, would lead to growth?

"Well, if borrowing a trillion dollars in spending, largely on government, and over-regulating the economy, is good for the economy, we'd be in a boom time. So my view is: Quit doing what we've been doing. You certainly don't want to raise taxes in the middle of the recession, which the president [agreed with] in December."

In his responses to other questions, McConnell explained a bit more about his thinking here -- tax simplification, while not possible in the debt deal (not enough time), was the way to go. "We want it to get more revenue through economic growth," he said.

But the best question about this was about last week's vote on the ethanol tax break. Did McConnell no longer "feel bound" by the Norquistian tax pledge position, that any vote against any tax break was in itself a vote to raise taxes? Were any tax loopholes on the table?

"I think they will be, in the context of corporate and individual tax reform," he said. "And at the risk of being completely and totally redundant, I'm in favor of looking at both corporate and individual rates -- and by the way, I think you can't just segment out of corporate only. "

What sort of loopholes might get taken out in a deal? "We ought not to do this in a piecemeal way, just picking out things that poll-test well."

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 


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.

160 Countries Host Marches to Demand Action on Climate Change


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
Sept. 20 2014 11:13 AM -30-
Business Insider
Sept. 20 2014 6:30 AM The Man Making Bill Gates Richer
Sept. 20 2014 7:27 AM How Do Plants Grow Aboard the International Space Station?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 19 2014 4:58 PM Steubenville Gets the Lifetime Treatment (And a Cheerleader Erupts Into Flames)
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Sept. 21 2014 1:15 PM The Slate Doctor Who Podcast: Episode 5  A spoiler-filled discussion of "Time Heist."
Brow Beat
Sept. 21 2014 2:00 PM Colin Farrell Will Star in True Detective’s Second Season
Future Tense
Sept. 19 2014 6:31 PM The One Big Problem With the Enormous New iPhone
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 21 2014 8:00 AM An Astronaut’s Guided Video Tour of Earth
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.