Republicans on the fiscal super committee — which is tasked with coming up with a $1.5 trillion deficit reduction package by the end of the month — today made an offer that is supposedly a “concession” on their part, agreeing to $300 billion in new revenue, when they had previously ruled any new revenue off the table:
Congressional Republicans have offered to increase tax revenue by nearly $300 billion over the next decade through an overhaul of the tax code, a significant concession aimed at breaking a long-standing impasse in negotiations over the federal debt.
The offer envisions a tax code rewrite that would lower rates for everyone while raising overall tax collections by $250 billion, mainly by limiting the value of itemized deductions such as write-offs for home mortgage interest, state and local taxes and other expenses.
As a symbol of how far this debate has shifted, over the summer Speaker of the House John Boehner proposed a plan that included $800 billion in new revenue. The GOP now wants to raise less than 0.2 percent of GDP in revenue, which is less than the Democrats have offered in Medicaid cuts.
Plus, there is a huge catch: in order to agree to raising revenue, Republicans want to not only make all of the Bush tax cuts permanent, but according to the Washington Post’s Greg Sargent, they also want to lower the top income tax rate from its current 35 percent to 28 percent:
The highest tax rate would be reduced from 35 percent to 28 percent under the emerging GOP tax code overhaul proposal, the senior Democratic aide tells me. And the reduction would actually be even bigger than this. After all, if the Bush tax cuts were allowed to expire, as they’re set to do, the high end rate would go up to at least 39 percent. In other words, the aide says, under the proposal Republicans are pushing, the drop down to 28 percent would be at least 10 percentage points from what it would be if the cuts are allowed to expire.
According to Center for American Progress Director for Tax and Budget Policy Michael Linden, the reduction in the top tax rate alone costs $670 billion, which exclusively benefits the wealthy. Meanwhile, limiting itemized deduction in the way that the GOP suggested to the Wall Street Journal’s Stephen Moore would, according to Linden, raise $560 billion from the wealthy. So the rich are still getting a tax cut.
The rest of the revenue that the GOP has to raise to net $300 billion, therefore, must come from middle- and low-income households. Let’s emphasize that again: the GOP’s big “concession” when it comes to deficit reduction is paltry amount of revenue that will come from many middle-class households, paired with a huge tax cut for the rich.
Simply put, the GOP’s plan is not a concession, but a joke meant to make them look reasonable as they continue to push for lowering tax rates on the most well-off Americans. As one Democrat said, “they either think we’re morons or desperate.”
The Post has edited the lede of its story, which yesterday said that the Republican offer was a “significant concession” but now reads:
Congressional Republicans have for the first time retreated from their hard-line stance against new taxes, offering to raise federal tax collections by nearly $300 billion over the next decade as part of a plan to tame the national debt.
But Democrats rejected the offer Tuesday — along with the notion that Republicans had made a significant concession that could end the long-standing political impasse — leaving a special debt-reduction committee far from compromise with less than two weeks until its Thanksgiving deadline.