10 Things Republicans Don't Want You to Know About the "Fiscal Cliff"
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"There's no evidence whatsoever that the Bush tax cuts actually diminished revenue. They increased revenue because of the vibrancy of these tax cuts in the economy. So I think what Senator Kyl was expressing was the view of virtually every Republican on that subject."
That may have been a view universally shared by virtually every Republican, but it happens to be wrong.
In a recent interview with Chris Wallace of Fox News, Speaker Boehner articulated the second fantasy of Republican tax proposals:
We have laid it all out for them, a dozen different ways you can raise the revenue from the richest Americans, as the president would describe them, without raising tax rates...
You can eliminate certain deductions for those -- the wealthiest in our country. You could do all of that.
But as Americans learned during the 2012 campaign when Mitt Romney offered the same basic formula, you simply can't get there from here. Of the $1.1 trillion Uncle Sam gives up in tax breaks, deductions, loopholes and credits each year, there simply aren't enough that impact the wealthy alone. As Greg Sargent laid out the Republicans' magic thinking:
The problem, though, is that you'd have to eliminate virtually every significant loophole and deduction that benefits the wealthy to make this possible, according to Roberton Williams, a senior fellow at the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center. Worse, if you also want to lower tax rates, as Republicans say they do, it would become even harder...
Williams added that to come within the ballpark of raising $800 billion in new revenues in this fashion, you'd probably have to pare back substantially or eliminate an enormous range of deductions, from the write-offs for employee provided health insurance, interest from municipal bonds, and money invested in retirement plans, to itemized deductions for charitable contributions, state and local taxes, and mortgage interest payments.
Thus far, Boehner like Paul Ryan and Mitt Romney has refused to name a single loophole he'd close. Pressed by Wallace on the point, Boehner responded:
Listen, there are lots of ways to get out there. Now, I'm not going to debate his or negotiate with you. But if you can sign the bill into law, I'd be happy to.
As Paul Krugman said of Ryan's "Pink Slime Economics":
So which specific loopholes has Mr. Ryan, who issued a 98-page manifesto on behalf of his budget, said he would close? None. Not one. He has, however, categorically ruled out any move to close the major loophole that benefits the rich, namely the ultra-low tax rates on income from capital. (That's the loophole that lets Mitt Romney pay only 14 percent of his income in taxes, a lower tax rate than that faced by many middle-class families.)
In April, the New York Times put Krugman's question into a handy chart of " Who Gains Most from Tax Breaks":
As part of his proposal to raise $1.6 trillion in new revenue over the next decade, President Obama has called for returning the estate tax to its 2009 level of 45 percent on individual fortunes above $3.5 million. Needless to say, Republicans want to get rid of it altogether.
Of course, the Republican scam over the so-called " death tax" is as bogus now as it was when President Bush first perpetrated it during the 2000 election. As former Nevada Senator John Ensign griped when Congress last wrestled with the issue, "It destroys a lot of small businesses and a lot of family farms and ranches in America." Then House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) similarly groused: