Cave-In: Corker Hints at GOP Willingness to Raise Taxes for Entitlement Reform

I suppose this was inevitable. That rock-solid wall of opposition by the GOP to raising taxes? It appears that the edifice is crumbling.


Republican Sen. Bob Corker opened the door for a deal with Democrats on tax and entitlement reform Sunday, saying that Republicans might be open to reform that “generates additional revenues.”

Speaking opposite Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) “Fox News Sunday,” the senator from Tennessee said Republicans want to see a “75-year solution” to entitlements, adding President Barack Obama was moving in the right direction.

“I think there, by the way, is a chance on a deal, I know the president is saying the right things and we have an opportunity over the next four months,” Corker said.

If Democrats and the president were willing to make some changes to entitlements, Corker said, Republicans might be open to generating revenues – although he did not include tax rate increases.

“I think Republicans, if [Democrats] say true entitlement reform, would be glad to look at tax reform that generates additional revenues. And that doesn’t mean increasing rates, it means closing loopholes, and that also means arranging our tax system so that we have economic growth, and I think we have been saying that since day one,” Corker said.

Durbin praised Corker’s “honest and constructive answer”

“What Bob Corker just said from his side is a basis set of principles that both parties can rally around,” Durbin said.


I’m all for compromise, but it has to be realistic and enforceable. There are plenty of Republicans — even in the Senate, much less the House — who will never vote for increased revenue just as their are many Democrats who would never vote for cuts in Medicare or Social Security.

Corker should listen to John Boehner:

“The president believes that we have to have more taxes from the American people. We’re not going to get very far,” Boehner said. “The president got his tax hikes on January 1. The talk about raising revenue is over. It’s time to deal with the spending problem.”

Both Corker and Boehner, however, acknowledged that the prospect of a “crisis” over the debt is a long-term issue, not an immediate pressing threat. Other Republicans, including House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) have characterized the federal budget deficit and debt as a much more imminent danger to the health of the American economy.

“We do not have an immediate debt crisis — but we all know that we have one looming,” Boehner told ABC. “And we have one looming because we have entitlement programs that are not sustainable in their current form. They’re going to go bankrupt.”

Shortly after the ABC interview aired Sunday, Boehner’s press office released a excerpts of the interview that omitted Boehner’s acknowledgment that there is no “immediate” debt crisis.

On CBS, Bob Schieffer highlighted Boehner’s comments and asked Ryan whether the government faces an immediate debt crisis. Ryan acknowledged that it does not, but warned about an economic calamity if one happens.

“America is still a step ahead of the European nations who are confronting a debt crisis, of Japan. it’s partly because of our resilient economy, our world currency status,” Ryan said. “So we do not have a debt crisis right now, but we see it coming. We know it’s irrefutably happening.”


Ryan is correct, and further, does anyone seriously believe that once the economy is healthy again with unemployment below 6% and GDP growing at 3% or more, that it is going to be any easier or “safer” to cut the budget? This is the de facto argument of Paul Krugman and the “anti-austerity” brigade on the left and they offer no evidence whatsoever that this would be the case.

And where does it say in the rulebook that we have to wait for a crisis to be upon us before we act? That’s brainless. If people like Paul Krugman believe the pain of budget cutting would be less when we’re on the brink of catastrophe, he is sadly mistaken. If we wait 10 years to reform Medicare, Paul Ryan’s plan is going to appear like a walk in the park.

The time to get a handle on the budget is now — not when a full fledged crisis hits us. And raising revenue by fiddling with the tax code — especially the way that Obama wants to — should be a non-starter with Congressional Republicans.


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