Yesterday House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) and Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ) may well have doomed negotiations to raise the nation’s debt limit when they walked out over a dispute with Democrats about raising revenues. Their theatrics bring the country closer to the brink of financial collapse, and observers have described the move as a “tamper tantrum” and “political grandstanding.” Today, more details emerged about exactly what Republicans are willing to threaten the global economy over to defend.
Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), a member of the bipartisan debt discussion group led by Vice President Joe Biden, said Republicans chose to “protect taxpayer subsidies for big oil companies, tax breaks for corporate jets, and tax breaks for millionaires”:
Democrats want to close tax loopholes that benefit oil companies, and eliminate a tax preference that gives corporate aircraft a friendlier depreciation schedule than commercial aircraft. Additionally, Van Hollen said, Democrats were proposing to phase out tax deductions and certain credits for people making more than $500,000 a year. These would be paired with a reduction in the tax burden on lower earners, by eliminating existing limitations on their deductions. [...]
“The message Republicans sent was…unless we accept their lopsided approach…they’re prepared to tank the economy,” Van Hollen said.
Cantor had been vague about the specifics, saying only that the disagreement had been a “tax issue.” His spokesman, Brad Dayspring, described the impasse as being over “Democrats’ push to raise taxes” on “individuals, small businesses, and employers,” which TPM notes is the language Republicans often use to make their position sound more palatable than “defending tax breaks for millionaires.”
Democratic aides also said Republicans’ refusal to consider defense spending cuts to alleviate painful cuts to domestic programs was “central” to the negotiation breakdown. As Democrats have repeatedly emphasized, it’s impossible to improve the country’s debt situation without raising revenues or by slashing discretionary spending alone.
There’s also evidence that Republicans planned the walk-out weeks in advance to pressure Democrats and improve Speaker John Boehner’s (R-OH) negotiating position. In short, at no point have Republicans been negotiating in good faith or honestly trying to broker a deal. They’re more interested in “striking a Tea Party pose” and using the massive debt they created as an excuse to enact their radical political agenda.