-By Warner Todd Huston
Senator Tom Coburn (R, OK) is trying to break heavy with the Tea Partiers -- and for that matter his own party -- by encouraging Republicans to include massive tax hikes in the on going budget discussions in congress this year.
Coburn appears to feel that a tax hike simply must be part of the discussion to get a deal this year simply because the Democrats control both the White House and the Senate. Apparently Coburn is afraid that a deal must happen this year or the U.S. will become a third world nation over night.
Unfortunately, Coburn's ideas on the budget have no historical basis at all. Tax hikes have never helped raise a down economy. It seems Coburn is far more interested in the relative success of a deal to solve our economic situation than in what a tax hike means for both the country and his party and whether it will even work or not.
Coburn is fighting both his party and several anti-tax advocacy groups like Americans for Tax Reform. In a recent National Review article, Ryan Ellis, Tax Policy Director for Americans for Tax Reform, clearly shows a tax history that makes Coburn's position untenable. (Do read Ellis' article. It has some great info on how constant tax hikes and spending hikes have brought us to the mess we are in today.)
Ryan reminds us how politicians in 1982, 1990, and 1994 were sure that a tax hike was necessary to save the country. Ryan also points out that in nearly every case the same politicians promised to make cuts in spending to make the tax hikes less painful. Sadly, such spending cuts never materialized. What we ended up with was both higher spending and higher taxes.
I spoke to Mr. Ryan about ATR's position. "We don't have an undertaxing problem, we have an over spending problem," he said. "We need to cut spending because congress has an out of control spending problem."
We're trying to do the best we can every day to tell people that we need to cut spending. We need to cut spending because we have an over spending problem not an undertaxing problem. Taxes are coming in at historical levels, so tax receipts are just fine. They are down a bit now because the economy is down but we are on target to see historical levels later on in the decade.
ATR isn't the only anti-tax hike voice out there. Coburn's Senate leader is also saying that there will be no talk about tax hikes. Last Wednesday, Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell (R, KY) said, "I think I can safely say this Congress is not going to raise taxes. So why are we still talking about this?"
In fact, McConnell's position is not unusual. Rather they are quite ubiquitous. Few GOP voices have joined Coburn in his desire to institute a massive tax hike on the American people. Senator Tom Coburn is virtually alone among Republicans for his looking to quash any recovery in an avalanche of new tax hikes.
Let us hope that Coburn stays the lonely, odd man out on this.