Straight Talk

Rudy Giuliani says straightforwardly that tax cuts increase revenues, but the fascinating element of Chris Wallace’s efforts to ask Republicans about this issue comes when he talks to John McCain:

WALLACE: Do you believe the tax cuts pay for themselves or do you believe that they add to the deficit?

MCCAIN: I think they stimulate the economy. I think that one of the first things we have to do that I forgot to mention is make these tax cuts permanent, because we’ve got to give some certainty to families and businesses all over America that these tax cuts will not expire and then give them the effect of a tax increase. So I believe they stimulate the economy, but, Chris, you’ve got to cut spending.

I’m proud to have been a member of the Reagan revolution, a foot soldier. And we cut taxes, but Ronald Reagan knew we had to cut spending at the same time. And that was our great failure as a party, is we cut taxes and then we let spending get out of control.

And frankly, it cost us a great deal. If we had adopted the tax cut package that I had, which entails spending cuts, then we would be talking about more tax cuts today.

It seems that he doesn’t really want to just flat-out lie, Giuliani-style. At the same time, he hardly dares tell the truth. After all, when you’re the Consensus King of Straight-Talk and your base wants you to say some nonsense, you have to avoid telling the base that the nonsense they want you to say is nonsense. So instead he gets in with some Reagan mumbo-jumbo: “Ronald Reagan knew we had to cut spending at the same time.” If by “knew we had to cut spending” you mean “increased defense spending enormously and caused a huge deficit at which point he turned around and raised taxes” then this turns out as accurate.