ThinkProgress filed this report from a town hall in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Over the next three months, the fiscal super committee created by the debt ceiling deal will meet to craft a $1.5 trillion deficit reduction package that Congress will vote on by Dec. 23. As progressives advocate a balanced approach that includes revenue increases as well as spending cuts, Republicans have refused to consider any revenue increases, no matter how small. This was evident in the August Republican presidential debate, where every single candidate refused to support a deal that would have included $10 in spending cuts for every $1 in revenue increases.
During a town hall meeting earlier this week, an Ohio constituent posed the same hypothetical to Rep. Steve Chabot (R-OH). Chabot was initially hesitant to answer because “we’re never going to get that deal,” but then went on to express his opposition to raising revenues at all, saying, “I’m not for raising taxes.” When a constituent correctly noted that taxes are at their lowest level in more than 50 years, Chabot was skeptical, declaring, “I don’t really buy that that’s the case”:
CONSTITUENT: My question is, would you support a bill that would increase the tax revenues by $1 and got $10 in cuts?
CHABOT: [...] We’re never going to get that deal. I’d have to look at it at that time. I’m not going to answer a hypothetical question with a set of facts that are not going to happen. And I’m not for raising taxes.
CHABOT: Because I think taxes are plenty high as they are right now.
CONSTITUENT: But again, they’re at the lowest…
CHABOT: I’ve heard that quote thrown around and I don’t really buy that that’s the case, that they’re the lowest. I know there’s some groups that have said there are. I’m not really convinced that’s the case. There may be some people that have it, but I don’t think that’s the case.
In fact, a recent USA Today analysis shows precisely that. In the beginning of 2011, the total tax burden dropped to 23.6 percent of all income, well below the 27 percent that individuals typically paid during preceding decades. If that average taxation burden still stood, there would be $500 billion in additional revenue, cutting the budget deficit by one-third.
With the United States facing a $14 trillion deficit and millions of Americans out of work, it’s clear that Congress needs to use every tool it can to address the problem, including raising revenue. But with congressmen like Chabot casting doubt on the fact that the current tax burden is at a historical low and using that doubt to justify why we can’t have any revenue increase at all, it’s difficult to imagine that Congress will be able to overcome Republican intransigence.