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 reporter for Bloomberg Politics


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 reporter for Bloomberg Politics



Smash and Grab

Will competitive Senate contests in Kansas and South Dakota lead to more late-breaking races in future elections?

Stop Panicking. America Is Now in Very Good Shape to Respond to the Ebola Crisis.

The 2014 Kansas City Royals Show the Value of Building a Mediocre Baseball Team

The GOP Won’t Win Any Black Votes With Its New “Willie Horton” Ad

Sleater-Kinney Was Once America’s Best Rock Band

Can it be again?


Forget Oculus Rift

This $25 cardboard box turns your phone into an incredibly fun virtual reality experience.

One of Putin’s Favorite Oligarchs Wants to Start an Orthodox Christian Fox News

These Companies in Japan Are More Than 1,000 Years Old

Trending News Channel
Oct. 20 2014 6:17 PM Watch Flashes of Lightning Created in a Lab  
  News & Politics
Oct. 20 2014 8:14 PM You Should Be Optimistic About Ebola Don’t panic. Here are all the signs that the U.S. is containing the disease.
Oct. 20 2014 7:23 PM Chipotle’s Magical Burrito Empire Keeps Growing, Might Be Slowing
Oct. 20 2014 3:16 PM The Catholic Church Is Changing, and Celibate Gays Are Leading the Way
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 20 2014 6:17 PM I Am 25. I Don't Work at Facebook. My Doctors Want Me to Freeze My Eggs.
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Oct. 20 2014 7:15 AM The Slate Doctor Who Podcast: Episode 9 A spoiler-filled discussion of "Flatline."
Brow Beat
Oct. 20 2014 9:13 PM The Smart, Talented, and Utterly Hilarious Leslie Jones Is SNL’s Newest Cast Member
Oct. 20 2014 11:36 PM Forget Oculus Rift This $25 cardboard box turns your phone into an incredibly fun virtual-reality experience.
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Oct. 20 2014 11:46 AM Is Anybody Watching My Do-Gooding? The difference between being a hero and being an altruist.
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.