The voices of Tax Policy Center's researchers and staff
Interesting to watch the Republican debate last night. Once they got past their arguments about who hired whom with a "funny accent" or who would build a bigger barrier across the Mexican border (Duncan Hunter trumped everyone by promising to build a double fence), the Presidential candidates tackled the "no tax" pledge invented a decade ago by Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform.
Their answers were revealing. Mitt Romney, Rudy Guiliani, and Mike Huckabee all said they had signed, or would sign, the vow. Fred Thompson, John McCain, and Hunter said they would not. By the way, although McCain says he has not signed the pledge, the ATR website claims he has.
Now, here's what these "no new taxes" candidates said about how they would control spending: Guiliani called for a 5 percent to 10 percent across-the-board cut for all civilian agencies. A few minutes later, however, when asked about trimming farm subsidies (hello Iowa), he said "you've got to do this very carefully." A few minutes after that, when asked about infrastructure spending, he endorsed a "sustained program" over many years to repair or replace roads and bridges.">
Romney said we should "fundamentally go at" entitlements, but has not said how, and he called for a 1 percent cap on non-defense discretionary spending. He also said he supports both direct farm subsidies and additional tax incentives for renewable energy, such as corn (hi, again, Iowa). While Romney didn't say so last night, he also wants to make all health care expenses tax deductible.
Huckabee said he'd control spending by eliminating the Internal Revenue Service (annual budget: about $11 billion, or about 0.5 percent of total federal outlays).
Read my lips: None of this adds up.
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