DENVER, Colorado — When the United States goes to war, it has a long history of raising taxes to pay for it. That tradition ended under former President George W. Bush, who sent troops into Afghanistan and Iraq while implementing huge tax breaks skewed towards the wealthy. And it will not be revived under a potential Mitt Romney administration, according to a top adviser.
ThinkProgress spoke with Eric Fehrnstrom following Wednesday’s debate about how far the Republican nominee’s resistance to raising taxes would go. We asked whether Governor Romney would be willing to raise taxes to pay for a war. “He’s not in favor of tax increases,” Fehrnstrom replied. We reiterated the question a second and third time, but Fehrnstrom didn’t budge, even for a wartime scenario. “He wants to cut taxes. He has no plans to raise taxes,” Fehrnstrom said:
KEYES: Would Governor Romney, for instance if a war erupted, would that merit being willing to raise taxes?
FEHRNSTROM: He’s not in favor of tax increases. When he was Governor of Massachusetts, he cut taxes 19 times. You’ve heard that he wants to cut taxes for the middle class, the way he’ll do that is by allowing them to invest and save tax free. But again, it really is a myth, this idea that Washington never raises taxes and we need a balanced approach. They raises all the time, they raised taxes 18 times. [...] The Governor is not proposing any tax increases, in fact he wants to cut taxes for the middle class.
KEYES: Even in wartime? Even to pay for a war?
FEHRNSTROM: He wants to cut taxes. He has no plans to raise taxes. They raise taxes all the time.
Though Romney has made the national debt a centerpiece of his campaign, not paying for two wars — much less cutting taxes at the same time — was among the driving factors that ballooned the deficit under President Bush. Iraq alone added approximately $1 trillion to our debt. If Romney chooses to send the military on a new mission, the absence of tax increases would mean another deficit-financed war.
Fehrnstrom also reiterated Romney’s pledge from the Republican primaries that, as president, he would reject a deal that included $10 in spending cuts for every $1 in new revenue. “That’s his position,” Fehrnstrom told ThinkProgress.