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Shocking: Republicans Used to Care About the Debt

By John Martin - Posted on 20 November 2011

When members of our party advocate for more tax cuts for the rich, you often hear them bring up the Kennedy tax cuts of the early 60's. If a guy like Kennedy understood the wisdom of cutting taxes back then, they argue, everyone today should be on board. Tax cuts spur the economy and raise revenues, or so the theory goes.

What you don't hear too much today is that in 1964, conservative hero Barry Goldwater voted against the Kennedy tax cuts (as did about a third of Republicans in Congress) because he was afraid of the inevitable growth in deficits. Likewise, when President Ford opposed a permanent tax cut in 1974, it was because he feared the increased deficits such a move would cause. According to the original supply-sider in the House, Jack Kemp, "The Republican orthodoxy was balance the budget first and then cut tax rates."

Sometime during the time of Reagan, things began to change. Reagan raised taxes in 1982 after his drastic '81 cuts, because it quickly became clear that deficits were already getting out of hand. The '82 Reagan tax increase produced almost $200 billion in additional revenue in the four years after it was enacted.

Then, in 1986, Grover Norquist created Americans for Tax Reform and began asking Republican candidates to pledge to never raise taxes under any circumstance. According to an article in the New York Times this past Friday, a move by Reagan in 1987 to raise revenues yet again passed, but this time without a majority of Republican votes. The following year, George H.W. Bush felt compelled to ask people to read his lips, knowing he had to shore up support among the tax-cuts-above-all-else crowd which had by then taken over the party. 

We all know what happened next. In 1990, in an effort to restrain our out-of-control deficits, Bush called for a minor tax increase. His reward was a primary challenge from the right, and an end to his Presidency. Since that time, few Republicans have been willing to seriously entertain raising taxes, no matter how much it would help the country.

This fervent tax-cutting ideology continues to haunt the party, to the detriment of well-being of the nation. The GOP congress turned down an offer from President Obama over the summer to reign in government spending by $3 trillion-- a move that would have meant cuts in entitlements that Democrats normally oppose-- because the President requested $1 trillion in additional revenues.

Similarly, the budget supercommittee failed to come up with a $1.2 trillion reduction in the federal debt, in a large part because the Republican members were willing to concede just $300 billion in revenue increases. In exchange for this, they were demanding a permanent extension of the Bush tax cuts-- cuts that have already cost our treasury well over $1 trillion, and would likely result in a loss of $1 trillion more over the next decade. In other words, Republicans continue to tell themselves that the answer to addressing our debt problems is more tax cuts. No wonder the supercommittee failed.


ahhhh  very interesting history and insight as to why the republicans refuse to raise taxes!!!! I really appreciate this information. Too bad that our parties can't agree on anything during this tumultuous time.

Unfortunately for the GOP, I believe the American public now knows whose intransigence is actually keeping a deal from getting done (not that anyone on either side actually expected the debt panel to accomplish anything meaningful), and who to blame for the impasse. And I don't believe most voters are blaming the Dems. Maybe Republicans will come to realize before it's too late that their "no new taxes on the wealthy EVER" pledge to Grover Norquist is going to come back to bite them in the butt.


I so agree with you ! I feel the republican voters in this country will wake up to see the " smoke screen" the Republican party is trying to push. The " no tax for the wealth" platform they continue to run on, will not work. Families are suffering right now who are Republicans and voted for the Bush tax cuts. Eventhough the Republican part of congress is blaming the President and the Democrats, voters are not stupid.

I would hope the Republicans' responsibility for the current legislative mess is obvious, but never underestimate the Democrats' ability to screw up a political advantage, ruin their own message, or allow conservatives to define the debate for them. Add that to the 15% of the voting public that will NOT vote for a black President (I don't think Herman Cain is going to be in a position to neutralize that disadvantage for Obama) and Obama's self-inflicted loss of youthful enthusiasm for this re-election, and it is still 50-50 as to which party takes the hit for the economy in 2012.




How tragic after 237years of relative peace and prosperity the USA has been brought to its knees without a single shot at the hands of a vermin, Grover Norquist. Obama and bots want us to believe that this ugly, arrogant, little man is more powerful than the President of the USA. Are the people that stupid? An alternate view: Both sides mentioned a "grand bargain" between Obama/ Boehner $4 trillion in cuts for $800 billion in revenues that failed when Obama upped to $1.2 trillion. Why wasn't that plan the starting point for negotiatio­ns at the super committee?­?? If the American people were shown such a plan, they would have bombarded their representa­tives for passage. 75% of this country doesn't live at the extremes, but we need integrity not campaign slogans.

A 5% surcharge on millionair­es would have raised $36.3 billion last year and cuts with no new revenue is just as ineffectiv­e.  The smartest tax adjustment­s would be to eliminate the cap on earnings subject to FICA and to offer a choice between flat tax of 25% for earners with gross incomes of $200,000+ vs. the current rates with fewer allowable deductions. I would have gladly chosen the flat tax even it meant higher taxes.  While Republican­s are right that the private sector allocates funds more productive­ly, they ignore the enormous economic benefit that a sizable reduction in debt would bring. While Democrats see higher taxes as a license to spend more, they ignore the danger of not reducing the debt. Both sides are refusing to accept what is best for the country. Get smart or get out.

p.s. even though the Dems claim "everything" was on the table it simply wasn't true. Pelosi drew the line on entitlements and Obamacare and was a much stronger force against compromise than grover.



Obamacare actually reduces the deficit. Inconvenient fact for many Anti-Obama folks. The GOP plan to repeal Obamacare and go back to the status quo would add to the deficit and simply reward the insurance lobby. Democrats have given much more in terms of cuts, some very "near and dear" to the base and painful for the poor and middle class. Sure, many Democrats want to invest (spend as you say) on jobs programs or extended unemployment, but those are examples of spending which actually stimulates the economy or decreases the deficit as more and more people get jobs and become tax payers again. Extending the Bush tax cuts is the worst thing we could do and the least stimulative but that seems to be the main platform of the GOP. If President Obama gets a 2nd term, he should start with ending the Bush tax cuts, ending the Iraq War and winding down the War in Afghanistan & push hard for a comprehensive jobs package...we'll be in surplus territory in no time.

No matter what happens, the Bush tax cuts expire on January 1, 2012, which is mostly good, of course. It's bad, because it will mean that taxes will be going up for everyone, and who knows how the economy will be looking at that point. If the Republicans have either the White House or one of the houses in Congress, it's not likely they'd accept a tax cut for working and middle-class Americans unless it's accompanied by a cut for the wealthy as well.

Employee health care is part of my job, so I have an indepth knowledge of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Obamacare).  I can honestly say that we have had no downside as an employer in relation to the implementation of the act.  If anything, it has done nothing but benefit my employees.

The one downside is that the insurance companies are using it as an excuse to ream their clients and increase their rates when they are taking in record profits.  The next good part of the law that should bring that into control is the fact that insurance companies will be able to spend no less than 80% of premiums received on health care related costs for small businesses and 85% of premiums received on health care related costs for large businesses.  This began on January 1, 2011, and the assessment begins during the summer of 2012.  Payments to those who have overpaid has to occur by August 1, 2012.  I am quite interested to see how all of that will pan out next year.  I would bet that most people have no idea that this is part of the law.

Bravo Kelly I agree!!

Central TX Mom-I should clarify that the Affordable Health Care Act certainly did not go far enough IMO in terms of addressing insurance company abuses and no public option was a huge disappointment. The part you talk about is very good news but I'll bet insurance companies are trying to find loopholes as we discuss this. I agree I have heard no down side from employers. A few of my teacher friends (who happen to listen to Rush Limbaugh) think our district will stop paying health insurance soon because the penalty they would pay is less than they now pay. I don't believe the hype. I do know many conservative friends who admit they are grateful to keep their kid's on until they are age 26. John-I'd rather all tax cuts expire than keep them all. Obviously, Obama's support to only extend for the middle class makes the most sense. But you know that Republicans will give a false choice: all or nothing. So I say nothing. Painful for many but maybe when we start to see revenue make a dent in the debt we can restore some of those cut programs like Head Start or violence prevention programs. And thanks latrece!

"I don't believe the hype. I do know many conservative friends who admit they are grateful to keep their kid's on until they are age 26."

I just love conservatives who  trash government interference in everything and happily rack up the benefits when it suits them.  One of my neighbors whose sole interest in social conversation is dumping on government employees sent all three of his children to public universities (you know... those things whose faculties are composed entirely of public employees) to save the 50+% tuition. He and his wife were huge opponents of government involvement in health care -- until he had a protracted period of unemployment; then miraculously the idea of government guaranteed coverage didn't look so bad.  He is back at his old job, now, so I don't know if any of that new insight stayed with him.  I would be surprised if it did.

Hypocrisy. Plain and simple. Frustrating but just proves which side is correct on certain issues. Some people are slow learners. We have a friend who is a big Rush fan and is very anti-union, etc. He worked for Walmart for awhile and was fired for a reason he disputed. Would have been nice to have that union, huh? He also attacked people on Welfare but has no problem asking my husband for money to help him pay rent. A government hand-out vs. a friend hand-out? He did not have health insurance but has no problem taking advantage of some of the new Obamacare provisions while complaining about socialist Obamacare. Makes me laugh and shake my head. It's just like all those governors/senators who complained about the stimulus but were only too proud to be shown in pictures at the ribbon cutting ceremonies which were a result of the stimulus!

This " Pledge to never raise taxes " by the party is utterly ridiculous. The want to hold on to ths ideology of " Tax Reform" from the 80's at the cost of millions of American families But covientlt forgetting the 1982 Reagan tax increase that produced revenue for our country. Everyday the Republicans stick their heads in the sand meanwhile this country is going under.

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