Menus Subscribe Search

Follow us


Fiscal Cliff Round-Up

• November 28, 2012 • 4:38 PM

John Dickerson has a fine piece up at Slate that separates  the signal from the noise on the “Fiscal Cliff”. He points out that nothing Saxby Chambliss or any other Senator or White House official says means much, and that House Republicans are the only voice that matters right now. Obama has previously offered to make spending changes to Social Security and Medicare and has more recently made a very concrete revenue offer: Let the Bush tax cuts expire for the wealthiest Americans. So it might be safe to say that the only question is whether House Republicans will give on this revenue demand.

So far, the 241 Representatives in question have given their standard-bearer John Boehner much more leeway to bargain than last summer. Many have conceded the need to increase revenue (in ways which may or may not actually make a dent in the deficit), while some un-elected Republicans are at least hinting that they will or should go further and raise rates. And, of course, lots of important people are directing their ire at Grover Norquist. Still, it’s worth parsing the vague statements about tax rates specifically coming from rank-and-file House Republicans, from the big thorns in Boehner’s side (i.e. the Jim Jordans and Tom Prices), to committee chairs that have a few more horses to trade than the average Representative.

Here’s outgoing head of the Republican Policy Committee, Georgia Rep. Tom Price on Sunday, talking to CNN’s Candy Crowley:

PRICE: Tax revenue, which means broadening the base, lowering the rates, closing the loopholes, limiting the deductions, limiting the credits, and making certain that we identify the appropriate spending reductions so that we have, indeed, a balanced approach.

CROWLEY: OK, but we’re still at the place where everything gets hung up. No increases in tax rates. That is still the position of House Republicans, correct?

PRICE: Well, again, we would be happy to look at that if it solved the problem. The problem is, it doesn’t solve the problem. We want a real solution, which means increasing tax revenue through pro- growth policies.

And here’s Michigan’s Dave Camp, head of the House Ways and Means Committee:

“Only in Washington does it make sense to raise taxes to prevent tax hikes. I don’t buy into that. Nor does it make sense to permanently raise taxes to provide only temporary tax relief. For those who are worried about the deficit impact I would say this: Washington does not have a revenue problem, we have a spending problem. The notion that we have to raise taxes to reduce the deficit is just wrong”

Fred Upton, head of the Energy and Commerce Committee:

Upton comments Tuesday underscore how unlikely that scenario is as talks about avoiding the “fiscal cliff” unfold. Asked if he would accept a carbon tax along with a tax cut elsewhere, Upton said, “I don’t like the idea.”

Steve Scalise, incoming head of the ultra-conservative Republican Study Committee:

“We got a loud and clear message from the voters. The president only defines revenue as raising taxes. We see revenue coming from getting the economy moving again.”

And California’s Kevin McCarthy, House Majority Whip:

“I think elections are over.  Let’s sit down and find a bipartisan way that we can solve this problem, not go to a fiscal cliff while at the same time have a pro-growth agenda were we grow jobs.”

It’s noteworthy that none of these people specifically ruled out a yes vote for raising tax rates–they are simply expressing their disgust and displeasure with it.  More importantly, just in the last few days, one leading House Republican has actually spoken out in support of raising tax rates for the top 2 percent of incomes. And we also heard Eric Cantor come off surprisingly magnanimous (or at least more evasive and non-committal than a year ago) recently. So I think it’s fair to say that Boehner at least has room to cut a deal on tax rates, not just revenue–even if right now he’s only talking about revenues, and even if the fast-shifting convention wisdom says he only has permission to close loopholes or cap deductions.

This post was produced with research help from Sarah Sloat

UPDATE: Made some small changes for clarity. Also, don’t think that two New York Representatives, Peter King and Chris Gibson, disavowing Norquist means much.  Gibson, for his part, came out for the Cooper-LaTourrette plan, which the Bipartisan Policy Center explains does not raise rates: the plan suggests lowering rates across the board and eliminates deductions to ‘broaden the base’. King also did not necessarily express support for rate increases in his Meet the Press interview.  Tom Cole is still the only House Republican that has voiced anything less than total opposition to the rate increase Obama is demanding.

Michael Fitzgerald
Michael Fitzgerald is an associate editor at Pacific Standard. He has previously worked at The New Republic and Oxford American Magazine.

More From Michael Fitzgerald

A weekly roundup of the best of Pacific Standard and PSmag.com, delivered straight to your inbox.

Recent Posts

October 24 • 10:00 AM

Why DNA Is One of Humanity’s Greatest Inventions

How we’ve co-opted our genetic material to change our world.


October 24 • 8:00 AM

What Do Clowns Think of Clowns?

Three major players weigh in on the current state of the clown.


October 24 • 7:13 AM

There Is No Surge in Illegal Immigration

The overall rate of illegal immigration has actually decreased significantly in the last 10 years. The time is ripe for immigration reform.


October 24 • 6:15 AM

Politicians Really Aren’t Better Decision Makers

Politicians took part in a classic choice experiment but failed to do better than the rest of us.


October 24 • 5:00 AM

Why We Gossip: It’s Really All About Ourselves

New research from the Netherlands finds stories we hear about others help us determine how we’re doing.


October 24 • 2:00 AM

Congratulations, Your City Is Dying!

Don’t take population numbers at face value.


October 23 • 4:00 PM

Of Course Marijuana Addiction Exists

The polarized legalization debate leads to exaggerated claims and denials about pot’s potential harms. The truth lies somewhere in between.


October 23 • 2:00 PM

American Companies Are Getting Way Too Cozy With the National Security Agency

Newly released documents describe “contractual relationships” between the NSA and U.S. companies, as well as undercover operatives.


October 23 • 12:00 PM

The Man Who’s Quantifying New York City

Noah Davis talks to the proprietor of I Quant NY. His methodology: a little something called “addition.”


October 23 • 11:02 AM

Earliest High-Altitude Settlements Found in Peru

Discovery suggests humans adapted to high altitude faster than previously thought.


October 23 • 10:00 AM

The Psychology of Bribery and Corruption

An FBI agent offered up confidential information about a political operative’s enemy in exchange for cash—and they both got caught. What were they thinking?


October 23 • 8:00 AM

Ebola News Gives Me a Guilty Thrill. Am I Crazy?

What it means to feel a little excited about the prospect of a horrific event.


October 23 • 7:04 AM

Why Don’t Men Read Romance Novels?

A lot of men just don’t read fiction, and if they do, structural misogyny drives them away from the genre.


October 23 • 6:00 AM

Why Do Americans Pray?

It depends on how you ask.


October 23 • 4:00 AM

Musicians Are Better Multitaskers

New research from Canada finds trained musicians more efficiently switch from one mental task to another.


October 22 • 4:00 PM

The Last Thing the Women’s Movement Needs Is a Heroic Male Takeover

Is the United Nations’ #HeForShe campaign helping feminism?


October 22 • 2:00 PM

Turning Public Education Into Private Profits

Baker Mitchell is a politically connected North Carolina businessman who celebrates the power of the free market. Every year, millions of public education dollars flow through Mitchell’s chain of four non-profit charter schools to for-profit companies he controls.


October 22 • 12:00 PM

Will the End of a Tax Loophole Kill Off Irish Business and Force Google and Apple to Pay Up?

U.S. technology giants have constructed international offices in Dublin in order to take advantage of favorable tax policies that are now changing. But Ireland might have enough other draws to keep them there even when costs climb.


October 22 • 10:00 AM

Veterans in the Ivory Tower

Why there aren’t enough veterans at America’s top schools—and what some people are trying to do to change that.


October 22 • 8:00 AM

Our Language Prejudices Don’t Make No Sense

We should embrace the fact that there’s no single recipe for English. Making fun of people for replacing “ask” with “aks,” or for frequently using double negatives just makes you look like the unsophisticated one.


October 22 • 7:04 AM

My Politicians Are Better Looking Than Yours

A new study finds we judge the cover by the book—or at least the party.


October 22 • 6:00 AM

How We Form Our Routines

Whether it’s a morning cup of coffee or a glass of warm milk before bed, we all have our habitual processions. The way they become engrained, though, varies from person to person.


October 22 • 4:00 AM

For Preschoolers, Spite and Smarts Go Together

New research from Germany finds greater cognitive skills are associated with more spiteful behavior in children.


October 21 • 4:00 PM

Why the Number of Reported Sexual Offenses Is Skyrocketing at Occidental College

When you make it easier to report assault, people will come forward.


October 21 • 2:00 PM

Private Donors Are Supplying Spy Gear to Cops Across the Country Without Any Oversight

There’s little public scrutiny when private donors pay to give police controversial technology and weapons. Sometimes, companies are donors to the same foundations that purchase their products for police.


Follow us


Politicians Really Aren’t Better Decision Makers

Politicians took part in a classic choice experiment but failed to do better than the rest of us.

Earliest High-Altitude Settlements Found in Peru

Discovery suggests humans adapted to high altitude faster than previously thought.

My Politicians Are Better Looking Than Yours

A new study finds we judge the cover by the book—or at least the party.

That Cigarette Would Make a Great Water Filter

Clean out the ashtray, add some aluminum oxide, and you've (almost) got yourself a low-cost way to remove arsenic from drinking water.

Love and Hate in Israel and Palestine

Psychologists find that parties to a conflict think they're motivated by love while their enemies are motivated by hate.

The Big One

One company, Amazon, controls 67 percent of the e-book market in the United States—down from 90 percent five years ago. September/October 2014 new-big-one-5

Copyright © 2014 by Pacific Standard and The Miller-McCune Center for Research, Media, and Public Policy. All Rights Reserved.