I want to buy down debt and cut rates to create jobs, but I will violate the pledge, long story short, for the good of the country, only if Democrats will do entitlement reform.Statements like that by Graham and others are creating a lot of headlines and cable news chatter about how Republicans have suddenly gone soft on their tax absolutism, but at least so far, it's nothing but hot air. Graham is a perfect example. Not only is he conditioning his so-called willingness to violate the pledge on cuts to programs like Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, he's also making it clear that he's not actually willing to raise tax rates.
I agree with Grover, we shouldn't raise rates. But, I think Grover is wrong when it comes to [saying] we can't cap deductions and buy down debt.Capping deductions is an interesting idea, but if your goal is to raise tax revenue, then the way to do it is to raise taxes. And with the expiration of the Bush tax cuts coming up in just over one month, Republicans don't even need to vote to raise taxes—they'll go away automatically. In fact, because they wouldn't be voting for a tax increase, they wouldn't even be violating the Norquist pledge.
Instead of blowing more smoke about raising tax revenue without raising tax rates, what Republicans should do is pass the Senate's legislation extending middle-class tax cuts. That would prevent any short-term fallout from going over the fiscal cliff, buying time to address both spending and tax reform during the next Congress. If they don't follow that path, then everything they're saying now is nothing more than attempt to position themselves to shirk blame when taxes go up on January 1. But they won't be successful in avoiding blame, because if taxes do go up on income less than $250,000, there's only one reason why: Republicans decided to hold it hostage. And no amount of spin can change that simple fact.