Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-TX), the incoming chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, could not explain during an interview on Wednesday why House Republicans are holding middle- and low-income tax cuts hostage to the cuts for the wealthiest Americans in the fiscal cliff showdown. When pressed by CNN’s Soledad O’Brien, Hensarling first cited complaints about spending, but when O’Brien asked why he couldn’t set spending levels aside and compromise on taxes first, he had nothing but unrelated talking points:
O’BRIEN: Why don’t Republicans and Democrats vote to keep the taxes lower for middle class and people at lower income and let the other ones expire? And you could do that now. And we wouldn’t go over the fiscal cliff.
HENSARLING: What the Speaker has done is exactly what the President claimed he he wanted. The Speaker has put on the table a balanced approach. …
O’BRIEN: You can’t be surprised that the president said no go to that, right? Within only a couple of hours — because it did not increase taxes on the wealthiest Americans, which he has consistently said.
HENSARLING: The President won 51-49. He has an electoral college victory. It’s good enough to get him re-elected but not enough to give him a mandate.
Hensarling’s invocation of Speaker John Boehner’s (R-OH) proposal is not only not an answer to O’Brien’s question — as it doesn’t explain what’s wrong with the simple solution O’Brien poses — but it’s also not anything close to balanced. While Boehner’s plan contains an array of draconian spending cuts, it doesn’t propose any actual increased revenue, relying instead on the same voodoo as the Romney tax plan.
Hensarling’s electoral analysis is equally irrelevant and misleading. Not only did he get the numbers wrong (Obama won the popular vote by roughly double the margin Hensarling suggests), but Democrats made big gains in the Senate and actually won the majority of votes cast for candidates in the House.