Republicans of every stripe continue to spout utterly incoherent gobbledygook on the subject of George “Tax Cuts” Bush‘s tax cuts, the budget deficit and the national debt.
Carly Fiorina — who used to be CEO of HP, was fired for incompetence, and decided that she was now qualified to be a Republican candidate for the Senate — echoed the hapless Jon Kyl‘s assertion that “you should never have to offset” the cost of a tax cut, but with a twist all her own:
Let me propose something that may seem crazy to you: you don’t need to pay for tax cuts. They pay for themselves, if they are targeted, because they create jobs….
Yes, that should indeed seem crazy to you. Because it is.
One, even Bush’s own economists baldly declared that tax cuts don’t pay for themselves:
For example, in the recent past we have several times drawn attention to how the President’s own economists have roundly dismissed presidential claims and made it clear that tax cuts can never be expected to even come close to paying for themselves. Without mincing words, people like Douglas Holtz-Eakin (chief economist for Bush’s Council of Economic Advisers in 2001 and 2002) and former Treasury Secretary John Snow and Gregory Mankiw (head of Bush’s Council of Economic Advisers from 2003 to 2005) have made it clear that no one in her right mind who knows the first thing about economics should expect this, or will be caught dead saying it.
Two, didn’t we just live through the mother of all targeted tax cuts (targeted, of course, means tax cuts for the very very rich) in the time of Bush? Don’t we have an actual track record of how many jobs were created by Bush’s humongous tax cuts?
On July 31, 2008, the House Committee on the Budget reported (pdf):
To date, this Administration has created just 58,000 new jobs per month on average compared with 237,000 per month under President Clinton.
Man, those tax cuts really sent job creation through the roof, didn’t they? And it must be because of how the tax cuts paid for themselves (by creating that explosion of new jobs) that the national debt jumped by almost $5 trillion in the time of Bush.
So that, obviously, is where Carly Fiorina is coming from when she tells us that if we extend the Bush tax cuts, they will pay for themselves by creating jobs.
Still, Fiorina can probably be forgiven for spouting the nonsense she spouted, because she is so obviously delusional. (In delicious obliviousness, Fiorina went on, in the same interview, to say that the Senate “doesn’t have enough people who understand how the economy works”.)
Tom Coburn, on the other hand, understands perfectly well that tax cuts increase the deficit, and therefore need to be paid for. Here’s a perfectly clear statement of that recognition:
…if we wanted to do new tax cuts, I think we ought to cut spending to pay for them…
But somehow, that doesn’t seem to apply when it’s a matter of extending the Bush tax cuts:
“If we extend the president’s tax cuts — if we wanted to do new tax cuts, I think we ought to cut spending to pay for them,” said Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK), one of the most conservative members of the GOP. “But the tax cuts that we have today?” The answer to that rhetorical question, presumably, is no.
So now the notion of good deficits and bad deficits can be supplemented by the notion of good tax cuts (which don’t need to be paid for, because they create good deficits) and bad tax cuts (those not originally proposed by a Republican president, which ought to be paid for, because they create bad deficits).
In addition to Fiorina and Coburn, various other Congressional Republicans have been happy to exhibit varying levels of delusionality and mendacity.
Mitch McConnell, as befitting a Republican leader, did it in spades:
…there’s no evidence whatsoever that the Bush tax cuts actually diminished revenue. They increased revenue, because of the vibrancy of these tax cuts in the economy. So I think what Senator Kyl was expressing was the view of virtually every Republican on that subject.”
Yes, Mitch, certainly. No evidence whatsoever. If you ignore all those trillions added to the deficit, that is. (Unless McConnell believes that the Bush tax cuts increased revenue, it’s just that they somehow had an even more vibrant effect on spending.)
The “GOP’s top budget guy”, Judd Gregg, walked away with the prize for sheer incomprehensibility:
He said Kyl’s prescription — offset spending with tax increases or program cuts, but treat tax cuts differently — is exactly right. “It makes a lot of sense, because, you know, when you’re raising taxes you’re taking money out of peoples’ (sic) pockets,” said Gregg when asked by TPMDC. “When you’re spending money, you’re spending money that is — it’s not the same thing because it’s growing the government. So I tend to think that tax cuts should not have to be offset.”
If I may venture to try and finish his uncompleted thoughts, filling in some of the blanks to achieve coherence and comprehensibility:
“When you’re raising taxes, you’re taking money out of people’s pockets. When you’re raising taxes and spending money, you’re spending money that is taken from people’s pockets. That’s what robber barons do. The best of all possible worlds is when you’re spending money but cutting taxes. That’s spending money without taking it from people’s pockets. Nobody gets hurt, nobody gets angry. So I tend to think that tax cuts should not have to be offset.”