Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) delivered an address Monday night at the Economic Club of New York, where (in addition to botching several key economic points) he reiterated that House Republicans will not consider tax increases as a legitimate option for reducing the deficit. “The big myth of the current budget debate is the notion that in order to balance the budget, we have to raise taxes. The truth is we will never balance the budget and rid our children of debt unless we cut spending and have real economic growth,” he said.
Boehner, in one fell swoop, pronounces that “everything is on the table” to reduce the deficit, before immediately taking one half of the federal ledger — taxes — off the table. But this is far from the first time that Boehner has attempted to convince the country that the budget can and should be brought into balance entirely on the spending side. In fact, on June 12, 1993, Boehner gave the weekly Republican radio address and used it to attack the tax increases and budget proposed by President Bill Clinton:
We Republicans are relegated to the sideline, even though we have a solid plan ready to go to reduce the deficit, a plan that calls for no tax increases and true cuts in government spending. [...]
The hard simple truth is, the President is taking us down the path of more taxes, more spending, and bigger government…President Clinton must understand that he has to cut spending, for real. He has to reduce the deficit, for real. And level with this nation about the direction he wants to take us.
Two months after this speech, Clinton’s 1993 tax increases were passed without a single Republican vote, and Boehner was far from the only one who said that the move would “kill jobs,” “kill the economic recovery,” and “set loose [a] dreadful virus into the economic bloodstream.” In reality, Clinton’s policies ushered in the longest sustained period of economic growth in the nation’s history, with 23 million jobs created. Compared to the administration of George W. Bush, the Clinton-era saw more job growth, more GDP growth, more wage growth, and more business investment.
Of course, it could be that Boehner is well-aware of all this and is just playing politics. After all, one Senate GOP aide admitted to the Atlantic’s Derek Thompson that his party’s no-taxes stance isn’t “intellectually honest” and is all about political gamesmanship.
(HT: Glenn Kessler)