The GOP’s stubborn refusal to close frivolous tax loopholes is receiving flak from an unexpected corner. This morning on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, Ohio Gov. John Kasich scoffed at the GOP’s unwillingess to “be a leader” in the debt ceiling negotiations.
Aghast that the GOP would push “caps and gimmicks” to address the debt, he demanded to know whether the GOP would “put [its] head in the sand” and “let America default?” “You gotta be kidding me,” he exclaimed, pushing Republicans to get a debt deal “in the middle.” When asked by columnist Mike Barnicle whether he’d consider closing loopholes in order to avoid tax increases, Kasich said “Yeah! There’s enough in that [federal tax] code” to seriously address the deficit:
BARNICLE: Closing loopholes..
BARNICLE: Closing loopholes would provide you with enough revenue, widen the revenue stream, that you wouldn’t have to go to tax increases.
KASICH: Yeah I think there’s enough in that code.
BARNICLE: If you really go after it.
KASICH: If you really do it. And here’s the thing, when you do that, that ought to come a little later. Because I’ll tell you what Congress will do. Republicans blew the big surplus, Joe! They went on a spending binge we couldn’t believe it, after 2000!
In this instance, Kasich is correct. As Center for American Progress’s Seth Hanlon and Michael Ettlinger note, there’s more than $1 trillion of wasteful spending hidden in the federal tax code to go after. These include billions in subsidies to highly profitable oil and gas industry, a tax loophole or hedge fund managers, and tax breaks for horse breeders, for corporate meals and entertainment, for vacation homes and yachts, and for corporate jets. Those tax breaks alone would save taxpayers more than $75 billion over the next ten years.
Incidentally, Kasich’s new found sense of national leadership doesn’t seem to apply to Ohio. Since taking office in January, he has slashed and burned vital public programs in his budget while cutting taxes for corporations and the wealthy. If Kasich preaches a rational approach on the national stage, perhaps he should practice it in his state.
Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) offered his compliments to Kasich’s new found common sense, tweeting this morning “Glad to see @JohnKasich supports closing wasteful tax loopholes in debt deal- DC Rs should too.”