House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI)
Last September, the non-partisan Congressional Research Service released a report showing that tax cuts for the rich — contrary to GOP orthodoxy — have minimal effect on economic growth or job creation. Instead, they simply increase income inequality. Republicans pressured the CRS to pull the report down; it was eventually re-posted with the same conclusions.
Last month, another non-partisan agency, the Congressional Budget Office, released an analysis showing that one of the GOP’s favorite corporate tax ideas would end up pushing jobs overseas. Again, instead of reexamining their ideas, Republicans are attacking the messenger:
The Congressional Budget Office is defending a recent report on how U.S. multinational corporations are taxed, after a top Republican criticized the analysis as biased. [...] “This report purports to provide an even-handed review of different policy issues related to the taxation of foreign source income,” [House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave] Camp (R-MI) wrote to [CBO Director Doug] Elmendorf last month.
“However, a closer analysis of the report reveals that it is heavily slanted and biased in favor of one specific approach to the taxation of foreign source income – and relies heavily on sources that tend to support that conclusion while ignoring sources that support a different conclusion,” he added.
Elmendorf defended the report, saying it “presents the key issues fairly and objectively and that its findings are well grounded in economic theory and are consistent with empirical studies in this area.”
The GOP’s idea — known as a “territorial” tax system — would permanently exempt U.S. corporations from paying taxes on profits they make overseas. CBO found such a system would result in “increasing incentives to shift business operations and reported income to countries with lower tax rates.”
ABC News’ Jonathan Karl confronted Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) over his past support for the sequester, just as the one-time GOP vice presidential candidate sought to blame President Obama for the automatic across-the-board cuts scheduled to go into effect on March 1.
During an appearance on This Week, Ryan argued that President Obama “proposed the sequester” and hasn’t “put any details out there” to offset it. “We are here because the president back in the last session of Congress refused to cut spending in any place and therefore we wound up with the sequester,” Ryan insisted. But Ryan hasn’t always opposed the automatic cuts.
As Karl pointed out, when Congress was debating the Budget Control Act in August of 2011, Ryan supported the framework and urged his fellow Republicans to vote for the sequester:
KARL: Congressman, I’ve heard you Republicans for a long time. This was the president’s idea on and on and on but let’s look at your own words. What you said right after the law putting this in place was passed in August of 2011. These are your words. You said “what conservatives like me have been fighting for for years are statutory caps on spending, literally legal caps in law that says government agencies cannot spend over a set amount of money and if they breach that amount across the board sequester comes in to cut that spending. You can’t turn it out without a supermajority. We got that into law.” Now, it sounds to me there like if you weren’t taking credit for the idea of the sequester, you were certainly suggesting it was a good idea.
RYAN: So those are the budget caps on discretionary spending. Those occurred. We want those. Everybody wants budget caps. The sequester that we’re talking about now is backing up the super committee. Remember the Super Committee in addition to those caps was supposed to come up with 1.2 trillion in savings. The Republicans on the super committee offered even higher revenues in exchange for spending cuts as part of that. It was rejected by the president and the Democrats. So no resolution occurred and therefore the sequester is occurring.
Ryan’s argument is fundamentally dishonest, as he is one of the Republicans responsible for creating the sequester in the first place. In the summer of 2011, Republicans demanded spending cuts to offset a debt ceiling increase and refused to consider new revenues in those negotiations. That standoff produced the Budget Control Act, which Ryan voted for and promoted. The law included spending caps and a devastating sequester as a way to motivate a bipartisan Super Committee to find $1.2 trillion in spending cuts.
After the Super Committee failed to agree on a spending reduction package, Ryan — then the GOP’s vice presidential candidate — consistently railed against the sequester mechanism he previously supported, calling it “reckless” and “devastating.” Two months later, he wants the sequester to go into effect and may incorporate its savings in his upcoming budget.
Ryan tried to end his interview with Karl on a high note, presenting himself as a lawmaker above the fray. “Actually, Jonathan, you’ve known me a long time, and the one thing you know about me is I don’t play that [political] game,” he said in response to a question about whether or not he’s positioning himself for a presidential bid in 2016, adding, “I don’t talk like that.”
With the sequester deadline looming just two weeks away, Republicans have adopted the public posture of cheerleading for the anticipated spending reductions to social programs, while preparing to blame President Obama for their devastating impact on middle class Americans and national security.
Republicans have yet to offer a proposal that would offset the cuts in the 113th Congress and have categorically rejected the Senate’s balanced approach of higher revenues and spending cuts. Instead they’re sitting on their hands until the March 1 deadline, informing Obama that they will not act to head off the automatic reductions.
“Let me be very clear,” Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY) told CNN’s Candy Crowley on Sunday. “These spending cuts are going to go through on March 1st ….The Republican Party is not in any way going to trade spending cuts for a tax increase.”
Pressed by Crowley on the consequences of the across-the-board cuts, Barrasso initially dismissed their impact before blaming Obama for any deleterious effects. “I believe the president has a lot of authority that he can decide how this works, and, yeah, he can make it very uncomfortable, which i think would be a mistake on the part of the president, but when you take a look at the total dollars there are better ways to do this, but the cuts are going to occur,” he said.
Federal spending is already scheduled to reach historic lows as a result of the Budget Control Act, which placed caps on spending as part of the deal to raise the debt ceiling in the summer of 2011. Non-defense spending is currently 14 percent lower than it has been at any time in the last half-century, and will drop further if the sequester goes into effect, impacting food safety, education, law enforcement, and safety net programs, according to estimates from Democrats on the House Appropriations Committee.