When the credit rating agency Standard & Poors downgraded the U.S. from AAA to AA+, it pointed to both the use of the nation’s debt ceiling as a political football and the GOP’s complete intransigence on taxes as justification for the drop. As National Journal put it the day that S&P handed down its decision, “It’s hard to read the S&P analysis as anything other than a blast at Republicans.”
Since then, Republicans have desperately tried to spin the downgrade in order to pin the blame for it on President Obama. Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN), for instance, said that S&P “essentially proved me right,” even though she was one of the premier “default deniers,” whose very existence S&P said contributed to the downgrade. Last week, as Political Correction’s Alan Pyke noted, Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) quoted S&P in a USA Today op-ed “to support their claim that the downgrade was ‘a clarion call to get America’s fiscal house in order’ rather than the penalty for their party’s shameless politicization of the debt ceiling.”
Cantor is back at it in a Washington Post op-ed today, first pointing to S&P to criticize the Obama administration, and then blasting the administration for proposing new revenues:
Since taking office, [Obama] has added trillions to the debt, ignored the recommendations of his own fiscal commission and put forth a budget that failed to address the drivers of our debt. Then we had to drag him to the table to make even the modest spending cuts that Standard & Poor’s says don’t go far enough. [...]
But the politics of division have reared up, fueled by efforts to incite class warfare. For example, though he often talks about millionaires, billionaires and corporate jet owners paying their “fair share,” behind closed doors the president admits to wanting to raise taxes on individuals making $200,000 per year and families and small businesses earning $250,000 per year.
Why does the president insist on higher taxes? Behind the rhetoric lies a desire to permanently increase the size of government — a philosophy that most Americans, who already think the government is trying to do too much — do not agree with. For the past few years, investors, families and businesses small and large have felt the threat of higher taxes, increased regulations and government expansion.
Of course, even a cursory look at the S&P report reveals that the agency agrees with Obama and the Democrats when it comes to taxation. “The majority of Republicans in Congress continue to resist any measure that would raise revenues,” the report says, noting with dismay that “new revenues have dropped down on the menu of policy options.”
Cantor has already acknowledged S&P’s warning regarding taxes, but has urged his GOP colleagues to ignore it. Evidently his part in this bit of theater is repeatedly citing S&P while continuing to advocate the policies that led S&P’s to issue its downgrade in the first place.
On a separate note, President Obama’s pledge to let the Bush tax cuts expire for those households making more than $250,000 annually was one of his highest profile campaign promises, which he has repeatedly cited over the last two and a half years. How does this qualify as a position that he only admits “behind closed doors”?