he debate over the deficit just got hotter. Republicans are calling on Democrats to reduce spending, but at the same time they're pushing to extend George W. Bush's tax cuts, including those for the extremely wealthy, that are set to expire this year. Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl (R-AZ) explained on "Fox News Sunday" that maintaining the tax cuts is necessary to stimulate the economy, even if Congress doesn't find a way to offset the cost, which some put at $678 billion over 10 years. Liberal bloggers pounced, saying that Kyl's remarks proved that Republicans aren't "serious" about cutting the deficit. Is it possible to support deficit reduction and tax cuts at the same time? (Watch Jon Kyl's Republican defense)
Republicans are living in a fantasy world: Sen. Jon Kyl's insistence that Congress should never have to offset the cost of a tax cut, says Ezra Klein in The Washington Post, "is much crazier than anything you hear from Democrats." A Democrat would be "laughed out of the room" for saying spending should never be offset. "Back in the real world, tax cuts and spending increases have the exact same effect on the budget deficit." Kyle and company don't really hates deficits — they are just exploiting deficit fears for partisan gain.
"Jon Kyl gives away the game on deficits"
This isn't the "gotcha moment" liberals claim: Kyl's merely saying "that a tax cut paid for by a tax increase is no tax cut at all," says Daniel Foster at the National Review. That's hardly a "gotcha moment." Ask Kyl and he'd surely "tell you that tax cuts should be offset — by spending cuts." So all we've learned is something we always knew — conservatives believe "you need a better reason to raise taxes, to grow government, and to infringe liberty than you do to cut taxes, shrink government, and increase liberty."
"Tax cuts and tax redistributions"
So let the GOP propose spending cuts to offset the tax cuts: "I happen to agree with Kyl that the Bush tax cuts should be extended," says Doug Mataconis at Outside the Beltway. Raising taxes with the threat of a double-dip recession looming "strikes me as a monumentally stupid idea." But "Republicans would sound much more credible" on the deficit "if they came out and identified spending cuts" to make up for the tax revenue we'll lose by making the Bush tax cuts permanent.
"Republicans ready to repeat the same mistakes all over again"
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- Why atheism doesn't have the upper hand over religion
- 31 TV shows to watch in 2014
- The world's dumbest idea: Taxing solar energy
- Why would a young person today be religious?
- He said he was leaving. She ignored him.
- Why Good Friday is so important to Christians
- Which states get screwed worst by the Electoral College?
- Why I'm a pro-life liberal
- Attack of the invasive species
- Why we can't stop procrastinating, according to science
Subscribe to the Week