Jonathan Chait, who has long been a careful observer of movement conservative insistence on cutting taxes -- he calls "anti-tax dogma" the GOP's "central precept" -- believes that cracks may be showing up in the wall. I'm very, very skeptical that there's anything going on there. Chait links to a WSJ piece about Republican Senators who may be willing to include revenues as part of a budget deal. Yes, Tom Coburn is willing to take shots at Grover Norquist, which is certainly worth noting. But we're a long way from that turning into a real change in GOP priorities.
This is one that, until proven otherwise, I'm probably going to assume that taxes will trump deficits for just about all Republicans, and certainly most mainstream conservatives -- and that most GOP hints and feints to the contrary are about as serious at Chuck Grassley's negotiations over health care reform in summer 2009. That is, they're primarily part of spinning the question of which side is "serious" and "bipartisan," not a sign of willingness to compromise.
It is plausible that Coburn may be an exception; he's been willing to buck his party on spending issues before, and that suggests that he may actually be an honest deficit idealist, and not just part of the GOP anti-tax war on budgeting. But one or two dissenters doesn't change much of anything.
I'll add: really, it's not clear to me that giving that much influence to Norquist is in any Republican politician's interest. However, that's the party they have, and I'll be shocked if there's any real interest in a budget deal that would cross Norquist's line.
Somewhat relatedly, I'm keeping an eye on states' increasing attempts to collect sales tax on online purchases (see, e.g., http://blogs.forbes.com/robertwood/2011/03/15/amazon-tax-attacks/) On the one hand, it's a tax, which no one likes, but on the other hand it's a way to help struggling states without federal spending. States have been finding circuitous ways to collect the taxes now, since the Supreme Court has basically said they can't be compelled to collect them under certain conditions, but Congress could pass a law to basically overturn the Quill decision and allow states to collect the taxes...ReplyDelete