Forty House Republicans sign letter encouraging Super Committee to consider new revenues

I’m a day late on this but it’s too intriguing not to blog. You can read the actual letter, which is exceedingly tame, on Mike Simpson’s website. Among the signatories: …Ron Paul.

The bad news? If this happens, some people might be paying a little more. The good news? We’ll never have to read another “time for a grand bargain” column from Tom Friedman again. Dude, I think we should take the deal.

A group of 40 House Republicans for the first time Wednesday encouraged Congress’s deficit reduction committee to explore new revenue as part of a broad deal that would make a major dent in the nation’s debt, joining 60 Democrats in a rare bipartisan effort to urge the “supercommittee” to reach a big deal that could also include entitlement cuts…

Among those who signed were several dozen Republicans who had previously signed a pledge promising they would not support a net tax increase. Among the Democratic signers were some of the House’s most liberal members who have opposed entitlement cuts…

Rep. Steven C. LaTourette (R-Ohio) said if he had a nickel for every one of the Republicans who said they supported the letter’s goal but feared how [Americans for Tax Reform President Grover] Norquist would react, “I’d be rich and retired, and we’d have 200 signatures on the letter.”…

[S]everal Republicans who signed the letter were careful to note they were not endorsing a net tax increase — but rather a broad rewrite of the tax code that might close loopholes and lower rates, while still producing more government revenue.

Even more intriguingly, Boehner himself came out today and said “I think there is room for revenues” in the Super Committee’s work while emphasizing that the GOP will only tolerate so much. When his staff was asked where, pray tell, these new revenues would be coming from, an aide suggested “increasing government fees, selling government assets and raising co-payments in government healthcare programs.” I.e. no tax hikes. So that’s that, right?

Maybe not:

Six members of a congressional “super committee” have struck out on their own in a new effort to come up with a plan to slash America’s huge deficits before a November 23 deadline…

Aides stressed that the six lawmakers are still in talks with the full super committee and have not splintered off. Instead, they are making an internal effort to try to broker a bipartisan deal.

Significantly, at least two Republican members of the smaller group are willing to consider revenue increases as part of a deficit-reduction plan, one of the congressional aides and a source with direct knowledge of the talks said.

Remember, the Super Committee only needs seven votes to approve a plan; there are six Democrats and six Republicans participating, so either one of those two unnamed GOPers who are open to new revenues could trigger some sort of “grand bargain” proposal involving entitlement reform. And if you’ve got six Democrats agreeing to entitlement reform, they’re going to want something more than “increasing government fees” in return. James Clyburn, one of the Democrats on the Committee, is talking about getting rid of some deductions, but whether that would pass muster with the GOP is unclear. Thirty-three Republican senators sent a letter of their own to the Super Committee today warning them away from trying to raise revenues. Whether they can get the rest of the caucus to go along and join a filibuster might depend on what Boehner and the House GOP do if/when a “grand bargain” makes it to the floor. As it is, Time magazine quotes a Senate source who puts the odds of the Super Committee deadlocking at 75 percent, up from 70 just two weeks ago. Watch this clip of Pat Toomey, another Committee member, talking about the current stalemate and you’ll think that estimate is too low.

Here’s Boehner today doing his “Grover who?” shtick after being asked about revenues. Exit question: It’s probably not a good sign for fiscal conservatives that members of Congress are already working to undo the automatic spending cuts that’ll be triggered if the Committee deadlocks, huh?

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John Sexton 10:05 PM on February 02, 2023