Republicans in Congress made plain during the debt ceiling fight that they will never accept tax increases or new revenue of any kind, even if it is outweighed hugely by reduced spending. This apparently puts them to the right of even Texas Gov. Rick Perry, Tea Party champion and Republican presidential flavor of the month:
To hear him tell it on the presidential campaign trail, Gov. Rick Perry has never met a tax increase he liked.
But at home, over a political career that reaches back to the oil price shocks of the 1980s, Mr. Perry has embraced billions of dollars worth of them — including a $528 million tax increase approved in 1990, after he defected to the Republican Party.
The biggest tax increases came early in his career, before anyone used the phrase “Tea Party” to describe a potent political movement. But a few weeks ago, Mr. Perry also signed into law an online sales tax measure that the state says will raise $60 million over the next five years.
Grover Norquist’s influential organization, Americans for Tax Reform, calls the measure a dreaded “new tax.” Mr. Perry opposed it as a stand-alone measure, but this summer it was tucked into a must-pass bill during a legislative session that otherwise saw deep budget cuts.
The past votes and more recent tax legislation are sure to get a new look from opponents as Mr. Perry, now a Republican front-runner, promotes his tax-cuttin’, budget-slashin’ ways as an antidote to the ailing economy and a president he attacks as recklessly profligate.
“To the extent that he tries to oversell this in a campaign, people are going to pick at it,” said Jim Henson, a political scientist at the University of Texas. “The question is, will his opponents be able to outmaneuver him to create a high level of dissonance between his record and what he says.”
So even Perry has vulnerabilities in his record. But the real takeaway here is the incredible stubbornness of the House GOP and its leaders.
Copyright 2011 The National Memo