In an appearance on Fox News Sunday, House Speaker John Boehner told host Chris Wallace that it doesn’t make a difference whether new revenue in a deal to avert the fiscal cliff comes from the middle class or from the wealthiest Americans.
Boehner, who said that he was “flabbergasted” by the White House’s opening offer (despite the fact that it’s exactly what President Obama campaigned on), blasted the president as “not serious” for demanding an increase in tax rates on the wealthiest earners.
When Wallace asked if Obama has a mandate on the issue — given that raising taxes on the wealthy was arguably the central issue dividing the president and Mitt Romney in the presidential election — Boehner argued that it doesn’t matter whether new revenue comes from the wealthy or the middle class.
Listen, what is this difference where the money comes from? We put $800 billion worth of revenue, which is what he is asking for, out of eliminating the top two tax rates. But, here’s the problem, Chris, when you go and increase tax rates, you make it more difficult for our economy to grow, after that income, the small business income, it is going to get taxed at a higher rate and as a result we’re gonna see slower economic growth, we can’t cut our way out of this problem, nor can we grow our way out of the problem, we have to have a balanced approach and what the president wants to do will slow or economy at a time when he says he wants the economy to grow and create jobs.
Boehner is wrong on two points. First, there is no reason to believe that restoring Clinton-era tax rates on incomes over $250,000 will prevent the economy from growing; on the contrary, rate increases on the wealthy in 1992 and 1994 were followed by a tremendous economic boom. Second, it clearly matters where the revenue comes from; as Boehner and the Republicans’ own rhetoric acknowledges, the middle class needs fiscal relief — not an increased burden.
The full interview between Boehner and Wallace can be seen here; the exchange on tax rates begins at the 5:33 mark.
Perhaps Boehner doesn’t care where new revenue comes from because he hasn’t yet figured it out. When Wallace pressed Boehner to name specific loopholes and deductions that he’d be willing to eliminate in order to make up the revenue lost by extending the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy, Boehner declined — as Romney and Paul Ryan did repeatedly during the campaign — telling Wallace, “I’m not going to debate this or negotiate this with you.”
Photo credit: AP/Susan Walsh
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