One of the great contradictions in the modern Republican Party is that almost all Republicans at the federal level advocate for both reducing the deficit and against even the tiniest of tax increases — goals which stand completely opposite of each other. Hundreds of elected Republicans have even signed the Americans For Tax Reform “Taxpayer Protection Pledge,” vowing to never support raising taxes under any circumstance.
Now, one Republican senator appears to be breaking with his party — at least rhetorically — on its hard line against tax increases. Sen. Saxby Chambliss (GA), in an interview explaining the deficit reduction plan he will soon introduce alongside Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA), explained that, while he has “never voted for a tax increase,” he thinks that a tax hike has “got to be a part of the mix” of a deficit reduction package:
Chambliss made clear that despite his long record as a reliable fiscal conservative, he is willing to defy the conservative shibboleth that tax increases dare not be mentioned. “I’ve never voted for a tax increase and hope I don’t have to ever vote for one, but I do think it’s got to be a part of the mix,” said Chambliss, who has a 93.28 percent life time rating from the American Conservative Union.
Chambliss said that he and Warner — in their discussions about the $1.5 trillion budget deficit and the $14 trillion national debt — have talked about “the difficulty that he’s going to have with his side of the aisle on reforming social security and Medicare.” “And he knows I’m going to have difficulty on the revenue side with folks on my side.”
Chambliss, as he admits, has never voted for a tax increase in the past. During the recent debate over the Bush tax cuts, he repeatedly warned of the importance of “preventing” tax increases, saying that any tax increase would harm the economy. And the wider deficit reduction package that Chambliss plans to introduce is expected to include regressive cuts to Social Security that would do little to reduce the deficit.
Yet it is refreshing to see a Republican member of the U.S. Senate — albeit just one member — admit that tax increases will have to be part of any sensible effort to reduce the U.S. budget deficit.