Pressure may be building to avert a year-end fiscal crisis, but don’t expect House conservatives to buckle on upper-income tax hikes, even if Democrats commit to spending cuts in the process.
“What’s going to help our economy? Everyone knows Washington has a spending problem. A big one,” Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio, the outgoing chairman of the conservative Republican Study Committee, said at an American Enterprise Institute panel on Tuesday. “... It’s a joke to go down this road” of considering any tax-rate hikes," he said.
Jordan and the committee's incoming chairman, Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana, both argued that, far from being a solution to the nation’s fiscal problems, raising tax rates in January would hurt the nation’s economy.
“I would argue, and history would prove, that tax cuts actually generate the revenue for economic growth to get you to a balanced budget,” Scalise said. “... Should we focus on fixing the problem or just appeasing the president’s pound of flesh that he wants to get?”
Despite their positions, House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and President Obama are the two principals in the negotiations to prevent the $500 billion in year-end tax hikes and spending cuts over 10 years that comprise the fiscal cliff. It's possible they could reach a compromise that allows upper-income tax rates to rise at the end of the year, even if not by as much as Obama initially sought.
And if a deal is struck, it’s not clear whether the RSC and its members will be able to stop it, Jordan said.
“If it’s got a tax increase in it, I’m not going to be for it and I think there’s lots of members who won’t be for it,” Jordan said. “But the RSC doesn’t always function as a unit, as we all know.... So, we’ll see. But we’ve said it several different ways, we shouldn’t be raising taxes.”