Mitt Romney may be gone, but as this screenshot from Fox News Channel earlier this morning demonstrates, his spirit of doublespeak—and his tax plan—live on:
And don't forget, the reality is actually worse than that screenshot. Speaker John Boehner isn't just saying no to higher tax rates—he's actually calling for lower tax rates. If that sounds familiar to you, it should: It's Mitt Romney's tax plan, although perhaps with a slightly smaller tax cut. Using Republican supply-side voodoo math, that would generate more revenue than current tax policy (unlike Romney's "plan," which would be revenue neutral), but according to everyone else, it would not only fail to raise additional revenue, it would make our fiscal problems even worse.
If Boehner is serious about this, he ought to go ahead and put a specific plan forward that manages to raise new tax revenue while lowering tax rates. But he won't do that because he's not serious. What he wants to accomplish isn't possible. If it were possible, I'd be all in favor of it. Who wouldn't want to cut taxes in order to raise revenue? But with tax rates at historic lows, it just can't be done.
Here's the bad news for Boehner: Under current law, tax rates go up for everyone on Jan. 1, 2013. Democrats have made it clear they want to extend current tax rates on all income below $200,000. As long as they don't get fancy and treat Boehner's bluff as a serious olive branch, Democrats can force Republicans between holding middle-class tax cuts hostage and accepting the end of the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy. Once that happens, we can start a process for tax reform, but it's nearly impossible to imagine a good outcome from extending all tax cuts.