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Jun 23 2011

Cantor Temper Tantrum: No Taxes, No, No, No (Up Date)

Up Date below the fold

Call a Wahmbulance for House Majority Leader Eric Cantor as he quits the debt ceiling talks with Vice President Joe Biden:

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, Republican of Virginia, said Thursday that he was quitting  the debt ceiling negotiations being led by Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. because of an impasse over the role of taxes in any final deal.

“I believe that we have identified trillions in spending cuts, and to date, we have established a blueprint that could institute the fiscal reforms needed to start getting our fiscal house in order,” Mr. Cantor said in a prepared statement.

“That said, each side came into these talks with certain orders, and as it stands the Democrats continue to insist that any deal must include tax increases. There is not support in the House for a tax increase, and I don’t believe now is the time to raise taxes in light of our current economic situation. Regardless of the progress that has been made, the tax issue must be resolved before discussions can continue.”

David Kurtz at Talking Point Memo says this may not be such a big deal:

The read we’re getting is that this could be merely an indication that the emissaries to the talks have gotten as far as they can get and that the remaining heavy lifting is going to have be done by the principals: President Obama and Speaker Boehner.

Meanwhile, Speaker John Boehner doesn’t sound to pleased that he will now have to defend the Republican stand that tax increases are off the table:

“I understand his frustration, I understand why he did what he did, but I think those talks could continue if they’re willing to take the tax hikes off the table,” he said.

One possible interpretation of Cantor’s pullout was that he needed Boehner’s authority to negotiate revenue increases necessary to complete a far-reaching deal with Democrats, but Boehner made repeatedly clear on Thursday that he had not budged at all on the issue.

“Tax hikes are off the table,” he said. “First of all, raising taxes is going to destroy jobs….second, a tax hike cannot pass the US House of Representatives — it’s not just a bad idea, it doesn’t have the votes and it can’t happen. And third, the American people don’t want us to raise taxes. They know we have a spending problem.”

(emphasis mine)

Boehner may be correct on point two but he is so wrong on one and three that is totally laughable and flat out lies that the press refuses to counter. Americans know we have a revenue problem because of the Bush/Obama tax cuts and loop hole in the tax code. Americans overwhelmingly support tax increases on millionaires. I don’t think Boehner is stupid, I think he is a tool of his corporate masters.

My only question now is where the hell is the Democratic leadership to counter this? Why aren’t the Democrats out in front of the cameras pointing out how wrong the Republicans are? The Democrats need to listen to the people, too and take Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid off the table as well.  

Up Date: Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max “I just pretend to be a Democrat” Baucus has let it slip that the grand deal that Cantor walked out on was a trade off, Medicare cuts for tax increases:

“I’m disappointed that Leader Cantor’s withdrawn,” said Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus during a hearing on health care spending. “I think we should stay at the table. I think we should keep working, difficult as it is, and try to balance between Medicare cuts — additional Medicare cuts — so long as there is commensurate additional revenue. We need balance here.

What???? More cuts Medicare to increase revenue? Please note there was no mention of the plan to decimate Medicaid.

David Dayen points out:

OK, so let’s parse this. Medicare cuts are apparently on the table in the deal. It seems that, in exchange for any additional Medicare cuts, revenue increases of commensurate value would be needed.

Now, there’s literally no connection between Medicare cuts and revenue increases (which could include the elimination of tax expenditures, presumably), just like there’s no connection between a dollar-value increase in the debt limit and spending cuts. These connections are all made for political reasons. Baucus can go back to his party and constituents and say, “Sure, we cut Medicare by $200 billion but we got $200 billion in new revenue.”

So we’re not talking about a balanced program of cuts and revenues, we’re only talking about balance on the ENTITLEMENT CUTS, and just one portion of them: Medicare. The total ratio could be as high as 90-10 spending to revenues, by these numbers.

It’s a horrible outcome. I for one am rooting for as much infighting among Republicans as possible to cancel out this bad deal. Of course, that puts us in a dangerous territory on the debt limit.

I’m cheering that the Republicans are looking like the kid who owns the bat and ball. If they can’t have the “game” their way then there is no “game” at all. If the Democrats play this right the Republicans will be held responsible but the Democratic leadership needs a better messenger than Max Baucus

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