Guy Benson

Throughout the Biden-led debt ceiling negotiations, Republicans have held firm on one central demand: Tax increases must be off the table.  After the GOP walked away from that table last week, the president finally agreed to enter the fray, asking both sides to accept concessions:
 

President Barack Obama made his first direct foray into the deficit negotiations Monday. He met with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in the Oval Office for about 30 minutes Monday morning, and planned to meet with Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell in the early evening.

White House spokesman Jay Carney said Obama's meeting with Reid was "constructive" and the president concluded that there are still opportunities for a deal to be reached. But he said the only way to achieve that objective would be to include tax increases or the elimination of tax breaks for big companies and wealthy individuals.  "It's the only way to get it done," Carney said.


And in the spirit of "constructive" compromise, the White House has proposed...$600 Billion in tax increases:
 

The White House has proposed raising about $600 billion in new tax revenue, including ending subsidies to oil and gas companies, an idea that failed in the Senate.  The administration also would tax private equity or hedge fund managers at higher income tax rates instead of lower capital gains rates, change the depreciation formula on corporate jets and limit itemized deductions for wealthy taxpayers. It also has called for repealing a tax benefit for an inventory accounting practice used by many manufacturers.


Reuters' Jim Pethokoukis -- who expertly covered Doug Elmendorf's spectacular testimony on the budget, debt, and taxes last week -- implores Republicans to hold the line:
 
1. The last thing the economy needs is a tax hike. If the economy was too weak to absorb a tax hike last December – when the White House and Congress agreed to extend all the Bush tax cuts for two more years –  its health is even worse today. The economy grew at just a 1.9 percent pace in the first quarter, and many economists now think it might grow just 2.0 percent in the second quarter – or even less. This should be a red flag to Washington. New research from the Federal Reserve finds that that since 1947, when two-quarter annualized real GDP growth falls below 2 percent, recession follows within a year 48 percent of the time.

2. Tax revenue isn’t the problem. Spending is. The recent Congressional Budget Office budget outlook was illustrative. The CBO forecast to note is its “alternative fiscal scenario” which “incorporates several changes to current law that are widely expected to occur or that would modify some provisions that might be difficult to sustain for a long period.”

By 2021, the the CBO says, the annual budget deficit would be 7.5 percent of GDP and by 2035 a truly monstrous 15.5 percent. Throughout this period, tax revenue would be 18.4 percent, right around the historical average. But spending would be 25.9 percent in 2021, 33.9 percent in 2035 vs. an average of roughly 21 percent. It’s spending that’s way out of whack, not revenue.

But let’s say all the Bush tax cuts were left to expire, as was AMT relief. Assuming no economic fallout, according to the CBO, revenue would be 23.2 percent of GDP by 2035. Three problems here: a) even with all those tax increases, the annual budget deficit would still be nearly an unsustainable 10.7 percent of GDP in 2035; b)  the U.S. tax code has never generated that level of revenue and almost certainly can’t without a value-added tax; and c) there would be tremendous economic fallout. Axing all the Bush tax cuts would chop three percentage points off GDP growth, according to Goldman Sachs, certainly sending America back into recession. Tax revenue would again plummet.

3. The key to boosting tax revenue is faster economic growth. A team of economists from the American Enterprise Institute recently fashioned a debt-reduction plan that would raise tax revenue to a long-term level of 19.9 percent of GDP. That’s pretty high when you consider there have only been three years in U.S. history that have seen a higher tax burden.

 
Seriously, read the whole thing.
 

UPDATE - The Washington Post's Marc Thiessen exposes the left's goalpost-shifting sleight of hand in the debt ceiling debate:
 

Critics say Republicans are being unreasonable in rejecting any tax hikes. In an editorial last week, The Post called GOP leaders “childish and irresponsible” and pointed out that Democrats have agreed to accept $2 trillion in spending cuts while Republicans are refusing to accept any tax increases in exchange. “Where is the Republican flexibility?” the paper asked.

Let’s be clear: Compromise here isn’t spending cuts for a tax increase; compromise is spending cuts for a debt-limit increase. Republicans elected in the Tea Party wave of 2010 campaigned on a promise to reduce the national debt. They are now being asked to turn around a half a year later and vote to raise the national debt. The vast majority of Republican voters don’t want them to raise the debt limit at all. The only way these Republican legislators can vote for a debt-ceiling increase without getting thrown out of office is to show their constituents that they secured unprecedented cuts in current spending — and ironclad constraints on future spending — in exchange. Tax increases? They are not even part of the equation.

 

UPDATE II - McConnell again slams the door on tax increases:
 


Guy Benson

Guy Benson is Townhall.com's Senior Political Editor. Follow him on Twitter @guypbenson.

Author Photo credit: Jensen Sutta Photography