Republican legislators are in a really tight spot these days. Those shifty Democrats have somehow craftily managed to trick them into refusing sign off on a run-of-the-mill debt ceiling increase without first balancing the national budget.
Of course, an obvious solution would be to supplement budget cuts with an increase in taxes on the wealthiest Americans. But obviously Republicans can't do that because… because because. You know how it is.
They all signed Grover Norquist's Americans for Tax Reform pledge in their own sanguine fluid, which means that they're all bound by a sacred oath to never raise taxes ever no matter what infinity. So, looks like there's no way out of this.
[A]ccording to Mr. Norquist’s interpretation of the Americans for Tax Reform pledge, lawmakers have the technical leeway to bring in as much as $4 trillion in new tax revenue — the cost of extending President George W. Bush’s tax cuts for another decade — without being accused of breaking their promise.
"Not continuing a tax cut is not technically a tax increase," Mr. Norquist told us. So it doesn’t violate the pledge? "We wouldn't hold it that way," he said.
Of course, letting the tax cuts expire is decidedly not Mr. Norquist’s preference. Indeed, as a matter of policy, he is passionately opposed to a single dime in new tax revenue. But the fact that Mr. Norquist interprets his own pledge to permit such conduct suggests that Republican lawmakers who have been browbeaten into abjuring any tax increase, at any time, for any reason, may not be as boxed in as they believe.
Clever girl, Grover Norquist. Clever girl. You really stuck it to that stuffed shirt Grover Norquist and his Americans for Tax Reform group this time.
Photo by Tim Sloan/AFP/Getty Images
Tags: Debt, Grover Norquist, House of Representatives, Republicans, Taxes