Forty-seven percent of S.C. Republican and Republican-leaning voters surveyed said they did not think it was possible to balance the budget without a tax increase, while 45 percent said a tax increase is not necessary. Seven percent said they were not sure.
“That is surprising, simply because it goes against the echo chambers and punditry who are constantly saying, ‘No Republicans believe in any tax (hikes),’ ” said Scott Huffmon, a Winthrop University political science professor and director of The Winthrop Poll.
One local Republican, South Carolina’s own Rep. Mick Mulvaney, had some sympathy for the views of these voters. He told a local paper that he was not surprised by the results and that he thought it was politically impossible to deal with the budget deficit without raising taxes. Mulvaney stressed that he intends to do this mostly through eliminating tax loopholes, even if that does bother “the extreme right wing of the party” that just wants to “starve the beast”:
However, U.S. Rep. Mick Mulvaney, a Republican from Indian Land, said the results did not surprise him. “I don’t think it’s possible to fix this problem politically without raising taxes,” he said. But that position hinges on Mulvaney’s definition of a tax increase. Mulvaney said removing loopholes in the tax code that benefit some companies – but not others – would require those companies to pay more taxes. But he doesn’t see that as a tax increase.
“If we do our job on fixing the tax code, lowering the rates but broadening the base, it may result in more revenue to the government,” Mulvaney said. “And that does bother the extreme right wing of the party sometimes, who just want to try and starve the beast. “(But) we are trying to bring fairness to the tax code and equity to the tax code.”
The poll of South Carolina’s self-identified Republican voters and Mulvaney’s stance are a refreshing reminder that there are many conservatives who do not align with the anti-tax orthodoxy preached by the leaders of the Republican Party and right-wing activists like Grover Norquist.