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Debating the End of the Supercommittee

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The six GOP members of the Supercommittee have a “must read” in today’s Washington Post. Whatever one thinks of it, the piece doesn’t confront the central problem with the Toomey-Hensarling tax hike which the GOP put forward as its part of the “grand-compromise-that-wasn’t”: No one in the GOP campaigned on such a platform in 2010. It was Beltway solution that didn’t have support among grassroots Republicans or new Tea Party activists.

GOP Whip Jon Kyl didn’t campaign in 2010, but all five other Republicans did, and the three from the House all pledged allegiance to the Pledge for America, which said nothing about cutting the income tax deductions for charities, home mortgage interest and state and local taxes. This is a radical proposal, one that fundamentally alters long-standing tax policy of the United States, and which needs to be debated openly before ever being adopted as a part of the GOP platform. If the GOP includes it in the platform of the Tampa Bay convention I will be surprised, but if it doesn’t, it shouldn’t be part of the 2013 debates over entitlement reform.

The first miscalculation of the Congressional GOP was that their counterparts would ever deal in good faith on entitlements and spending. The second mistake was to propose tax hikes on some in order to pay for tax cuts for others without first consulting their constituents and the new Tea Party activists, groups which appear to be opposed in large or near unanimous part to the tax hikes put forward by the GOP. Yes, we know the editorial board of the Wall Street Journal applauds such sweeping measures, but those handful of voices and like-minded think tankers don’t vote in large numbers, turn out the vote, or speak for the Tea Party. Neither, of course, do I, but I do listen to them and speak with them five days a week, and the support for the Toomey-Hensarling tax hikes was near zero and the opposition informed and passionate. If the Beltway GOP didn’t hear these voices, it was because they chose to ignore the objections, not because they weren’t there. If that tax hike package had made it to the floor, it would have been a replay of the immigration fiasco of 2007, so the House GOP especially should be glad it cratered because of Democrats playing “see-and-raise-your-tax-hike.”

The House GOP, facing new district maps across the country and a near complete failure to deliver on its 2010 Pledge because of the Democratic Senate, should spend the months until November 2012 explaining why spending hasn’t been cut, not why raising taxes would have been a really good idea.

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