About That Claim That the Debt Ceiling Deal Doesn’t Include Tax Hikes

Apparently someone forgot to tell Obama, via Jake Tapper:

White House officials call this hogwash.

“First, the suggestion that it is impossible for the Joint Committee to raise tax revenue is simply false,” one senior White House official emails ABC News. “If the Joint Committee decides as part of a balanced deal to eliminate tax subsidies for oil and gas companies or corporate jets, or if they decide to limit the value of itemized deductions for high income earners and the President has called for, these measures would raise revenue – completely independent of any baseline assumptions. They can absolutely be part of a balanced agreement, and the President will be encouraging the Joint Committee to consider them.”

The senior White House official says that “nothing in the legislation specifies that the Committee operate under any specific baseline. Any suggestion otherwise is false.  Under the terms of the statute, the Joint Committee could decide to use whatever baseline they want. If they want to operate under the baseline used by the Fiscal Commission, that assumed the expiration of the Bush high income tax cuts, they are free to do so. Likewise, if they want to operate under a current policy baseline, which is what Speaker Boehner was relying on when he said he had agreed to $800 billion in revenue from tax reform, they are free to do so as well.”

The senior White House official insists that the legislation “is no obstacle to revenue-raising tax reform. And the President will be making the case that this should be part of a balanced deal coming out of the Joint Committee.”

One bottom line of this debate is that it seems that the baseline the Super-Committee uses will also be a point of contention.

Experts on the CBO scoring process say Republicans are making a flimsy argument. There’s nothing in the legislation that would prevent the Super-Committee from proposing revenue increases. Nothing. And anyone in Congress can ask for alternative benchmarks.

Despite what many DC “conservatives” say, such as Jennifer Rubin, the Washington Post PDSer who recently called House members fighting for fiscal sanity extremists, Obama actually can raise taxes under the guise of allowing the Bush tax cuts to expire.  This will result in a tax increase of $800 billion to as much as $3.5 trillion if all Bush tax cuts are allowed to expire. This kind of crap is what happens when deals are cobbled together in the dark of night.  We have to pass it to see what’s in it, which the House just did. So much for the “post the bills online for three days” pledge.

Now it’s headed to the Senate where it’s expected to pass easily. Obama’s pretty excited. He gets to bury this issue until after 2012 and Tim Geithner is already champing at the bit to sell more debt. Oh, did I mention that there are hardly any actual spending cuts until 2014?  And, finally, there’s no reason to believe this will even save America’s AAA status.  In fact, there’s plenty of evidence to the contary.



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