Earlier this month, Reps. John Boehner (R-OH) and Mike Pence (R-IN) appeared on Meet the Press and were unable to explain their desire to extend the Bush tax cuts for the richest two percent of Americans with their rhetoric about deficit reduction. “Listen, what you’re trying to do is get into this Washington game and their funny accounting over there,” Boehner said, when asked if Republicans planned to pay for extending tax cuts for the rich.
Today, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) ran into the same trouble with MTP host David Gregory, and scoffed at the very notion of paying for tax cuts. “Why did it all of a sudden become something that we, quote, ‘pay for‘?” McConnell asked.
MCCONNELL: What are you talking about, paid for? This is existing tax policy. It’s been in place for ten years. [...]
GREGORY: For a final time, I’ll go back to my question which is, the extension of the tax cuts would cost $3.2 trillion. That’s borrowed money, that adds to the deficit. Do you have a plan to pay for that extension?
MCCONNELL: You’re talking about current tax policy. Why did it all of a sudden become something that we, quote, ‘pay for’?
In addition to incorrectly stating the effect that the expiration of the cuts would have on small businesses, McConnell basically summed up the Republican approach here, which is that cutting taxes for the rich is either free or worth exploding the deficit to implement. In reality, extending just the tax cuts for the richest two percent of Americans — which President Obama has proposed allowing to expire — costs $830 billion over ten years and $36 billion next year alone.
This week, the Washington Post excoriated Republicans for almost unanimously backing a proposal by Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) that would permanently extend all of the Bush tax cuts, calling it “a chilling sign of what a number of lawmakers believe passes for fiscal responsibility.” Of course, maybe McConnell and Senate Republicans simply agree with former Vice President Dick Cheney’s pronouncement that “deficits don’t matter.”