The GOP’s ‘magical thinking’


Posted by AzBluemeanie:

The GOP lives in a world of "confidence fairies" and "magical thinking." They are doctrinaire, committed to a socio-economic-religious dogma of faith based supply-side "trickle down" economic theory that has been entirely disproved and discredited. There is no empirical evidence to support this utterly failed economic theory. Yet Tea-Publicans cling to it as an article of faith. It is all they have.

So yesterday, House GOP leaders offered up their own fiscal cliff proposal.
In exchange for substantial spending cuts, the only concession
Republicans would make on taxes is that they would agree to $800 billion in "new
revenues." They would not raise tax rates, they would lower rates through
tax reform, and produce the new revenues by closing unspecified
loopholes and deductions, details to be worked out later.

In other words, a version of the Romney-Ryan plan recently rejected by voters on election day, and still without enough specifics on loopholes and deductions to be subject to scoring to check their math to see whether it adds up.

Tea-Publicans are behaving as if the election never occurred. The people have voted. These delusional Tea-Publicans are not serious. Greg Sargent writes, Republicans revive magical thinking:

The plan is too lacking in detail to say for sure whether the numbers
can even be made to work, according to a tax expert I spoke to this
morning. He added that based on what we know now, it would require the
elimination of so many loopholes and deductions as to be extremely
impractical, and probably politically impossible, though the GOP goal is
theoretically attainable under certain very narrow conditions.

Republicans have said
that the $800 billion in new revenues would come from eliminating
loopholes and deductions in a way that only targets those over $250,000.
That way, Republicans can argue that their plan doesn't hit the middle
class, only the rich.

The problem, though, is that you'd have to eliminate virtually every
significant loophole and deduction that benefits the wealthy to make
this possible, according to Roberton Williams, a senior fellow at the
nonpartisan Tax Policy Center. Worse, if you also want to lower tax
rates, as Republicans say they do, it would become even harder.

"If the tax rates are going to be lowered significantly, it's harder
and harder to hit that revenue target," Williams told me, adding that
until Republicans specified what sort of rate cuts they have in mind,
it's impossible to say whether this is even doable.

Williams added that to come within the ballpark of raising $800
billion in new revenues in this fashion, you'd probably have to pare
back substantially or eliminate an enormous range of deductions, from
the write-offs for employee provided health insurance, interest from
municipal bonds, and money invested in retirement plans, to itemized
deductions for charitable contributions, state and local taxes, and
mortgage interest payments.

Good luck waiting for Congress to eliminate all of those.

"If absolutely everything is on the table, and if the rate cuts are
not very large, they can meet the revenue target," Williams told me.
"But given the lack of specifics, it's impossible to say whether this
could be done."

What all this really means is that we're back in Mitt Romney
territory. Romney, unlike today's House Republicans, did not propose to
raise new revenue through eliminating loopholes, and only proposed that
for offsetting the cost of his tax cuts. But Romney's approach is
similar to the one in the new GOP plan, in that neither explains how the
numbers can be made to work.

This again underscores how unshakable the GOP refusal to raise tax
rates on the rich remains. [It is an article of faith.] Rather than acquiesce on that front,
Republicans are proposing an approach that would require a staggering
array of mathematical gymnastics in order to avoid it.

This is the same old magical thinking. And it raises an important question the media villagers rarely ever discuss: we have a political party that has made an economic theory part of its religious dogma. How can one have a rational policy debate based upon empirical evidence and arithmetic when one political party believes in magical thinking as a matter of faith?

UPDATE: The White House response to Boehner’s offer:

The Republican letter released today does not meet the test of
balance. In fact, it actually promises to lower rates for the wealthy
and sticks the middle class with the bill. Their plan includes nothing
new and provides no details on which deductions they would eliminate,
which loopholes they will close or which Medicare savings they would
achieve. […] 

Until the Republicans in Congress are willing to get serious about
asking the wealthiest to pay slightly higher tax rates, we won’t be able
to achieve a significant, balanced approach to reduce our deficit our
nation needs.

UPDATE: Great line from Steve Benen: "This isn't a "counteroffer"; it's a Christmas wish list written by kids without access to calculators."