Over the last few weeks, I’ve warned that the presidential deficit commission would serve as nothing more than a public-relations dodge to get broad-based tax hikes through Congress after Barack Obama’s repeated promises not to impose higher taxes on the middle class. The Daily Caller reports today that the public relations part of the effort has already begun. Democrats on the National Commission for Financial Responsibility and Reform have expressed support for “pro-growth” tax increases, and warn that “revenue” has to be part of any fix to the deficit:
Two immovable facts face Democrats on President Obama’s fiscal commission: They don’t see any way to alleviate the country’s debt without raising taxes, and they know most voters hate the thought of any tax increase.
Leading Democrats on the commission tried during the first week of meetings to finesse their way toward a discussion of what they consider inevitable — by arguing that any tax hikes would be “pro-growth.”
“If we can put forward some practical proposals that control the rate of spending in the future and that raise revenues in a pro-growth way, I think we’ll get a hearing in the Congress,” said Alice Rivlin, a former White House budget director for President Jimmy Carter, who is one of 18 commission members. …
Commission co-chair Erskine Bowles made clear last week that any recommendations he puts forth or supports by the Dec. 1 due date will include higher taxes. The three working groups that he set up to meet weekly over the next several months are focused on mandatory spending, discretionary spending and revenue reform.
Any solution is “going to involve revenue, and we have to face up to that,” he said. Bowles, a former White House chief of staff to President Clinton, also followed Rivlin’s tack, arguing that any tax increase would have to be good for the economy, business, job creation, etc.
Recall last week when Barack Obama said that he wouldn’t “play that game” when asked about possible commission recommendations for tax hikes, preferring to wait for the final report from the panel instead? Apparently, the Democrats on the panel have no such scruples. They’re attempting to plow the ground for tax hikes already, after just one meeting. Did they already go through the $1.1 trillion in new annual spending Democrats have added to the budget since FY2007? Couldn’t find anything to cut there? Maybe they should look again.
There are no such things as “pro-growth tax hikes,” unless they concern the growth of government. As Jon Ward notes, tax hikes take capital out of the private sector and put it in the least efficient hands, that of government bureaucracies. When taxes hit individuals, it gives them less money to spend, creating a recessive impact on the economy. When taxes hit businesses, they pass the costs along to consumer either through higher prices or through staff reductions — either of which create recessive pressure, too. That’s why taxation should be limited to only the most necessary of government tasks, which is why the Constitution only allots a limited jurisdiction on the federal government, such as national defense and interstate commerce.
“Pro-growth” tax hikes are as mythical as unicorns and yetis. They’re the fairy tale that tax-and-spend politicians tell their children to get them to go to sleep at night. Unfortunately, the American electorate aren’t children, and this year they’re wide awake.