White House: When we said tax revenue figures were ‘just math,’ we meant ‘politics’

posted at 5:11 pm on December 5, 2012 by Mary Katharine Ham

Yes, yesterday, we said this was about math, but when confronted with this unfortunate flashback, let us amend that answer with this equation: Politics = Math

As you saw Erskine Bowles say this week, a lot has changed since we were negotiating with John Boehner in 2011, including an election in which the American people spoke on the need for a balanced approach that protects the middle class and asks the wealthiest Americans to pay slightly higher tax rates. Moreover, even in the 2011 negotiations Speaker Boehner agreed that if tax reform did not work out then there would be decoupling with the middle-class tax cuts made permanent and the rates for high-income households rising.

Since the 2011 negotiations we have taken a hard look at the numbers and the math and there’s simply no plausible and desirable way to achieve the kind of deficit reduction we need without hurting our economy and sticking it to the middle class unless we ask for slightly higher rates for the wealthiest individuals. The math simply doesn’t add up. We are willing to do tough things and compromise to find a solution here. But the fact remains that there’s one thing standing in the way of achieving a deal and that’s the Republicans’ refusal to ask for slightly higher rates for the wealthiest individuals. We are hopeful that they’ll come to the table on this so we can find a solution that has balance and is good for the economy.

The fact that politics have changed is a reasonable assertion, but politics changing didn’t make the math change. Either the president was wrong when he said the “raising revenue” route could result in $1.2 trillion ($400 billion more than Republicans suggest is possible) then or he’s misleading now.

The Boehner suggestion of the Bowles pitch, which was written up by even Talking Points Memo as reasonable at the time of its proposal, doesn’t become mathematical “magic beans and fairy dust” simply because the President won, and the press shouldn’t pretend it does.

This is part of a larger tactic by the Left to polarize any plan that doesn’t stay in deepest, deep denial about entitlement spending. Please see a Fix the Debt event yesterday in which the coalition group embodying the Simpson-Bowles proposal and chaired by the Beltway’s most “reasonably reasonable” men themselves was heckled by disruptive liberal protesters. The press normally fetishizes bipartisan committee findings like Simpson-Bowles and Republicans who are willing to speak at such conferences, but who got the coverage yesterday? Demagoguing protesters painting Simpson-Bowles as radical, not the people reasonably talking about the debt. (Full disclosure: My husband does some advising on Fix the Debt, but I’m not involved aside from noticing liberals trying to make even Simpson-Bowles a pariah policy.)

Philip Klein offers a good criticism of Simpson-Bowles and S-B-inspired plans, saying Republicans “shouldn’t give bipartisan legitimacy” to the “revenues” euphemism. The point about dynamic scoring is important:

There’s been an ongoing debate over what counts as new “revenue” under this formulation. For instance, conservatives would be fine with the federal government collecting more revenue if the increased flow was the result of a more efficient tax code that boosted economic growth. But as I’ve noted, Bowles does not favor the use of dynamic scoring, a practice that accounts for growth-generated revenue. So that means if Republicans were being faithful to Bowles, the dollar value of the loopholes and deductions they’d be eliminating would have to exceed — by $800 billion — the lost revenue resulting from any reduction in tax rates. And that would be a clear tax increase.

If Republicans agree to raise taxes, they should just own up to it. They should argue that the best deal that they could get with an intransigent Obama still in office was to extend the rates on lower brackets, and they should express regret that they couldn’t prevent tax hikes on those with higher incomes. This would no doubt be a political defeat. But an even worse outcome would be for Republicans to negotiate a weaselly compromise in which they keep the rates the same, but get rid of $800 billion in loopholes and deductions, and then go around arguing that they merely agreed to “new revenue” rather than higher taxes.

Byron York says the closest Republicans will get to a win is relinquishing on upper-bracket tax increases and demanding commitments on entitlements in return:

Of course, raising taxes on the top bracket will not produce anywhere near enough money to avert a debt crisis down the road. Nor will cuts strictly in discretionary spending, although some should be made. The most important thing is reining in entitlement spending. So a deal would be: Republicans agree to raise the top tax rate while Democrats agree to cut entitlements.

“You need about $4 trillion over the next decade to stabilize the debt,” says former Congressional Budget Office chief Douglas Holtz-Eakin. “I would happily go from 35 percent to 39.6 percent in exchange for a trillion each out of Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. That has to be the nature of the deal. Republicans give on taxes, and Democrats have to give on entitlements.”…

A Republican offer to allow a top rate increase in exchange for entitlement cuts would turn the spotlight on the Democrats’ entitlement dilemma. If President Obama takes the position of many in his party — AFL-CIO chief Richard Trumka, for example, has written, “NO to cuts to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid and YES to fair taxes on the wealthiest 2 percent”– there will be no deal. But that would not stop the Republicans from saying right now: While we do not support raising taxes on anyone, especially in this weak economy, we will accept the president’s top-bracket rate increase in exchange for trillion-dollar cuts in the big three entitlement programs.

Doing that would forestall the Democratic attack that the GOP will not bend on tax rates. Instead, it would be the president who’s not bending. Of course, Obama — and many in the media — would find other grounds to attack Republicans. But since the GOP is ultimately going to relent on the top tax rate, why not do it when it has some benefit?

Sure, but we’ve seen this play before, in which hikes are agreed to but cuts mysteriously never materialize. Even if Obama did “commit” to some movement on entitlements, you’re likely to end up with the press dressing up Kabuki as some kind of responsible progress, and Republicans left with their cave and little else.

Sadly, it’s just a testament to how bad this political situation is for Republicans that that may be the only “win” they can wring from it. Head asploding.


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Democrats elected Obama to destroy America, he has a mandate.

Let them suffer the consequences. Starve the looters/moochers/weepers.

tom daschle concerned on December 5, 2012 at 5:15 PM

The fact that politics have changed is a reasonable assertion, but politics changing didn’t make the math change.

Of course the math changed. Math is whatever the Party says it is.

‘How can I help it?’ he blubbered. ‘How can I help seeing what is in front of my eyes? Two and two are four.’

‘Sometimes, Winston. Sometimes they are five. Sometimes they are three. Sometimes they are all of them at once. You must try harder. It is not easy to become sane.’

(a brief exchange between Winston Smith and Comrade Obama of the Inner Party)

malclave on December 5, 2012 at 5:16 PM

White House: When we said tax revenue figures were ‘just math,’ we meant ‘politics’

Mr Obama, why do you have a 10 gallon gas can in one hand and a lit match in the other?

SWalker on December 5, 2012 at 5:17 PM

Let it burn.

myiq2xu on December 5, 2012 at 5:19 PM

Mr Obama, why do you have a 10 gallon gas can in one hand and a lit match in the other?

SWalker on December 5, 2012 at 5:17 PM

Obama: Umm, ahh, so that umm, you won’t be ahh, able to find my ahh Birth Certificate…

SWalker on December 5, 2012 at 5:19 PM

LET IT BURN

burserker on December 5, 2012 at 5:20 PM

Now let’s see . . . Obama 65 million votes/Romney 61 million votes. Total votes = 128,299,099; winners percentage = 50.9% of total votes (there were also 2,223,004 votes cast for neither Obama or Romney). Yes, he won, but he barely got a simple majority and certainly not the “mandate” he fantasizes about. Nobody is contesting his win but it came a far cry from that needed to be emperor. Buck up Republicans, you have as much support in this country as he does and possibly even more if you include the 94+ million eligible voters that didn’t vote. All you need is a viable, strong winning strategy and the male parts to use and exploit it. Drive on!

rplat on December 5, 2012 at 5:22 PM

If we assume for the moment that Barack Obama, despite his casting as the “caring” President, does not, in fact, give a whit for any class, including the middle.

With that in place, try this on for size:

He wants to go over the fictitious cliff because, in fact, he wants those dollars from the middle class, upper class, businesses and everybody else. He just doesn’t want to be blamed for it.

If that’s the truth, harsh as it is, and I believe it has credibility based primarily in the President’s legendary lack of credibility on anything, then we’re faced with a no-win proposition.

He doesn’t want a deal. He wants the dollars.

Try that one on for size.

IndieDogg on December 5, 2012 at 5:22 PM

He’s already got what he wants. The GOP is splitting. That’s what this is really all about. Getting ready to take back the House in 2014.

a capella on December 5, 2012 at 5:24 PM

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A_sY2rjxq6M

Common Sense Floridian on December 5, 2012 at 5:25 PM

Full disclosure: My husband

.
You know everytime you mention this, beta males with romantic dreams crawl under their computer desk and cry the day away.

LincolntheHun on December 5, 2012 at 5:25 PM

Democrats elected Obama to destroy America, he has a mandate.

Let them suffer the consequences. Starve the looters/moochers/weepers.

tom daschle concerned on December 5, 2012 at 5:15 PM

Totally agree.

Go over the “cliff” then block an increase in the debt limit. Starve them better now than later anyway.

Steveangell on December 5, 2012 at 5:25 PM

“there’s simply no plausible and desirable way to achieve the kind of deficit reduction we need without hurting our economy and sticking it to the middle class”……
unless we ask for slightly higher rates for the wealthiest individuals”

Because once we get those higher rates, then we can really stick it to the middle class in a desirable way!

can_con on December 5, 2012 at 5:27 PM

obama-sama is the anti-Christ.

ultracon on December 5, 2012 at 5:30 PM

rplat on December 5, 2012 at 5:22 PM

+100!!

LASue on December 5, 2012 at 5:35 PM

obama-sama is the anti-Christ.

ultracon on December 5, 2012 at 5:30 PM

Well, comrade Obama sure does like Allah and does everything he can for Muslims … that could be construed as anti-Christ.

darwin on December 5, 2012 at 5:35 PM

The only fair system of income taxation is a flat tax – one that taxes every dollar of income the same, regardless of who’s earning it. Without a flat tax structure there will always be class war waged by the America-hating left with regard to the brackets. That ability to wage such a war must be removed from the income tax.

Further, the idea that capital gains are the same as ordinary income is insane. Capital gains are gains made from wealth that is at risk, unlike pulling a check from an employer. Only the dimmest of bulbs and the most disingenuous of liars would argue that such profits are equivalent.

But, the Weeping Boner doesn’t care about any of this. He’s happy to have Barky the 84 IQ Dog-Eating Retard push us around and make a mockery of American culture (reflecting more of Barky’s upbringing in Jakarta under a post-coup dictator, who overthrew another dictator) and relegating this nation to the trash heap of history.

It’s time for a divorce from Barky and all of his supporters. I share nothing with those despicable low-lifes and want nothing to do with them.

ThePrimordialOrderedPair on December 5, 2012 at 5:36 PM

Stop playing his game. The worst president in American history and his party signed on to whatever occurs on 1 January 2013. He owns it in full. If he and the next Congress can’t put a real budget together, Republicans need to tell him to go to hell.

RobertE on December 5, 2012 at 5:37 PM

Math?

Hahvahd’s Dean of Foreign Exchange & Quota Students let him sleep through that course.

viking01 on December 5, 2012 at 5:37 PM

If were going to get the blame anyway…

… I say let’s do the Full Monty.

Shut it down, burn it, all the way to the ground…

… Stop the checks going out, all of them.

Then start from scratch, soldiers in the field first, then Social Security, and then Medicare, but with a complete audit along the way…

… Money for Chinese prostitutes to learn safe sex?

So sorry, that program stays in ashes…

… Go line by line, totally abolish entire bureaucracies, departments, fraud, waste, and abuse.

Don’t even give interviews, just hunker down in the House and spend the next two years trying to save this Country…

… What have we got to loose?

Seven Percent Solution on December 5, 2012 at 5:37 PM

Election is over. Nobody votes again for 2 years.

Americans have the collective memory of a hamster.

Go over the freaking cliff. Better to shock the system than agree to the slow bleed that Obama is pushing for… which the GOP is going to get blamed for anyway.

Blame? Good. So what. Elections have repercussions. Stop shielding the American people from all the goodness that will come from their last vote.

Sugar Land on December 5, 2012 at 5:42 PM

Go over the “cliff” then block an increase in the debt limit. Starve them better now than later anyway.

Steveangell on December 5, 2012 at 5:25 PM

yep, it’ll only get worse until events occur that have to occur, a reckoning is needed

DanMan on December 5, 2012 at 5:42 PM

The focus should be making Obama own what comes from this.

blue13326 on December 5, 2012 at 5:43 PM

Appro of nothing:

Californians buying guns at record rate

As of November, the FBI has run 981,798 background checks related to guns in California for 2012, already beating out totals for other years.
http://www.ocregister.com/news/gun-379702-year-guns.html

Those who keep the statistics don’t speculate on why the numbers are spiking, but to enthusiasts on the ground, it’s clear. Times are tough, and the future is uncertain, said gun sellers and experts in the field, leaving people looking for an extra layer of security. November’s election brought heightened fears of impending regulation, spurring some buyers to bite the bullet and make purchases they might otherwise have put off.

Sales have been up since the 2008 election, said Steve Converse, who has worked at the business for about four years.

“That’s when we saw a lot of people buy their first guns,” Steve Converse said. “Now they’re coming back to expand their collection.”

Galt2009 on December 5, 2012 at 5:43 PM

If were going to get the blame anyway…

… I say let’s do the Full Monty.

Shut it down, burn it, all the way to the ground…

… Stop the checks going out, all of them.

Then start from scratch, soldiers in the field first, then Social Security, and then Medicare, but with a complete audit along the way…

… Money for Chinese prostitutes to learn safe sex?

So sorry, that program stays in ashes…

… Go line by line, totally abolish entire bureaucracies, departments, fraud, waste, and abuse.

Don’t even give interviews, just hunker down in the House and spend the next two years trying to save this Country…

What have we got to loose?

Seven Percent Solution on December 5, 2012 at 5:37 PM

Better yet, do we have a choice?

Galt2009 on December 5, 2012 at 5:45 PM

Get in the barrel, we’re gonna go over Niagara Falls… Rates go up, on everyone… which is fine… let the people suffer… growth is already zero, if not already in recession, so it really isn’t going to affect the economy much at this point…

The battle is on the debt ceiling… SHUT IT DOWN… social security checks still go out… Reagan did it numerous times… SHUT IT DOWN

phreshone on December 5, 2012 at 5:47 PM

Most of the Democrats I know refuse to believe there is even any need for reform..they tell themselves this is all part of a Republican plot to kill of old ladies and deprive the elderly of a roof over their heads..This could turn into an interesting situation for the Democrats in the long run when it becomes more and more obvious that entitlement spending is driving debt. How will they get out that?

Terrye on December 5, 2012 at 5:48 PM

Get those Lying Dishonest Corruptocrats to put it on paper.

FlaMurph on December 5, 2012 at 5:55 PM

Fire up the soup kitchens…

Let it burn…

Khun Joe on December 5, 2012 at 5:55 PM

…shitheadmotherfockers…!!!

KOOLAID2 on December 5, 2012 at 5:55 PM

“You said S-B inspired plans? Ohhhhh…I thought you said B-S inspired plans. Sorry about that. Ok, I’m off to Hawaii, see you in a month, good luck!”

-Bark

Bishop on December 5, 2012 at 5:55 PM

Most of the Democrats I know refuse to believe there is even any need for reform..they tell themselves this is all part of a Republican plot to kill of old ladies and deprive the elderly of a roof over their heads..This could turn into an interesting situation for the Democrats in the long run when it becomes more and more obvious that entitlement spending is driving debt. How will they get out that?

Terrye on December 5, 2012 at 5:48 PM

Global currency and complete state takeover of most if not all production. Probably one of the goals anyway. The UN is salivating at our demise.

darwin on December 5, 2012 at 5:56 PM

Just get past the tax issue, then stand firm on the debt ceiling.

Tater Salad on December 5, 2012 at 5:58 PM

Better yet, and while were at it….. Lets bring Benghazi into the Fiscal Cliff distraction and make Demoncrats agree to Benghazi investigation as part of any deal….
and demand to know Who gave the stand Down Order ob Benghazi.

FlaMurph on December 5, 2012 at 5:59 PM

None of this matters. The 0bama-fluffin’ press will ignore the expired 0bama words and trumpet the new ones.

0bama can say, or do, anything and it will be fine with the ignorant sponges. Just keep the 0bama goodies flowing a little longer. When everything collapses, all together now, It will be Bush’s fault.

cozmo on December 5, 2012 at 6:00 PM

If Obama says 2+2=5, then 2+2=5.

The Rogue Tomato on December 5, 2012 at 6:09 PM

MK, please don’t link to HuffPoop without fair warning. Personally I avoid the place, and want at least enough warning to get the muck boots on. There’s sh!t all over the place over there.

novaculus on December 5, 2012 at 6:12 PM

Mr Obama, why do you have a 10 gallon gas can in one hand and a lit match in the other?

SWalker on December 5, 2012 at 5:17 PM

“It’s not about money, it’s about sending a message: Everything burns…

VekTor on December 5, 2012 at 6:27 PM

This is about CLASS WARFARE. It’s about Barack Obama’s hatred of Republicans who he believes to be “rich, white people”, much as his hate-mongering former preacher, Jeremiah Wright believes. It’s about his sick need to DICTATE to them rather than leading.

He hasn’t even met with Republican leaders for weeks, even though the country is rushing toward the “fiscal cliff”. He’s changed his position again and again in order to consistently oppose them. I’m beginning to think he’s unhinged. And really, maybe that’s something that Congress should explore… is this guy psychologically competent?

If he continues down this path and actually sends us over that cliff, I really do believe the House should bring impeachment charges against him. He’s clearly crazy at that point.

Murf76 on December 5, 2012 at 6:53 PM

The tax cuts need to expire and the Republicans need to quit worrying about elections 2 years away. The public is either too stupid to rememeber or they are not. They seem to forget how much they hated Obamacare with help from Romney. Has no one been around long enough to know about the only time EITHER party can get tough is right after an election when they are too far for low IQ voters to remember a damn thing that made them mad.

Go Past Jan 1

Then start negotiating and watch the pressure build on Obama to let THEIR tax cut go in exchange for whatever (the low IQ voter doesn’t care? You also get past the excuse of “crisis” that Obama has governed with since he is part of the crisis being continued.

Conan on December 5, 2012 at 7:36 PM

Deductions and credits are expenditures by another name. Cutting them only “generates revenue” because they are favors that have been dished out before the tally is truly taken. If calling deduction and credit cuts “revenue” is what it takes to let Democrats save face, fine, but all conservatives should should treat them like they really are: just another form of government spending.

Count to 10 on December 5, 2012 at 8:34 PM

Vote “present” on the tax hike. Let the Dems pass it by themselves.

It will be tough to have excuses when their tax hike does jack squat as far as revenues and hurts the economy.

It’s hard to blame people who didn’t cast a vote, right Bammy?

goflyers on December 5, 2012 at 9:23 PM

There is absolutely no way the republicans can “win” in the media or with Obama voters no matter what action they take so this is the time for them to be responsible and walk away from Obama and his “math r hard” crew.

Wendya on December 5, 2012 at 10:23 PM

a balanced approach that protects the middle class and asks the wealthiest Americans to pay slightly higher tax rates.

Total income tax share (percentage):

In 1986 (the 6th year of Ronald Reagan Presidency), the top 10% paid a Total Income Tax share of 54.69%

In 1989 (1st Year of George H. W. Bush Presidency), the top 10% paid a Total Income Tax share of 55.78%

In 1993 (1st Year of Bill Clinton Presidency), the top 10% paid a Total Income Tax share of 59.24%

In 1997 (5th Year of Bill Clinton Presidency), the top 10% paid a Total Income Tax share of 63.20%

In 2001 (1st Year of George W. Bush Presidency), the top 10% paid a Total Income Tax share of 64.89%

In 2005 (5th Year of George W. Bush Presidency), the top 10% paid a Total Income Tax share of 70.30%

In 2009 (1st Year of Barack Obama Presidency), the top 10% paid a Total Income Tax share of 70.47%

Check the IRS numbers yourself (start at cell F183 and go down the column).

=============================================
A “balanced approach” does not mean constantly shifting more and more of the tax burden onto 10% of our citizes.
=============================================

A “balanced approach” would have been if Barack Obama, Harry Reid, and Nancy Pelosi had passed a budget in 2010 for FY 2011 and held spending to the same $ amounts as the FY 2004 Bush-Republican Congress budget, there would have been a $10 Billion SURPLUS in FY 2011!

It’s true.

Revenues in FY 2011 were $2.30 Trillion
Outlays in FY 2004 were $2.29 Trillion

Check the numbers yourself…

Budget numbers directly from the White House Office of Management and Budget

If Barack Obama, Harry Reid, and Nancy Pelosi had limited FY 2011 spending to the same $2.29 Trillion that Bush and the Republicans produced in FY 2004, then FY 2011 would have had a surplus of $0.01 Trillion ($10 Billion).

A buget surplus. Even better than a balanced budget.

When Obama and the Democrats use the word “balanced”, it almost always followed by the word “approach”, and what it means to them is RAISING TAXES.

You won’t hear Obama and the Democrats use the word “balanced” followed by the word “budget”. They have no intention of undoing the massive spending increases that have occurred since they took majority control of the House and Senate in January 2007. They have no intention of balancing the budget.

Just more taxes and more spending.

ITguy on December 6, 2012 at 11:47 AM

citizens

ITguy on December 6, 2012 at 11:48 AM