Over the past few years, there’s been a growing trend of Democrats and their allies in the media using the phrase “new revenue” as a euphemism for tax hikes. As Republicans struggle to find ways to strike a deal with President Obama while claiming to honor their pledges not to raise taxes, they are edging closer to embracing this new terminology. If that happens, it would have dangerous long-term consequences for tax policy. …

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. Not only would this be dishonest, but it would add bipartisan legitimacy to the practice of claiming that tax increases are merely “new revenue,” thus making it easier for Democrats to raise taxes again down the road.