Over the weekend, Sen. Jon Kyl (R–Ariz.) went on Fox News to tell the world that although spending increases should always be offset (gotta keep the budget balanced, natch), tax cuts shouldn’t. “You should never have to offset the cost of a deliberate decision to reduce tax rates on Americans,” Kyl said categorically. Liberals chortled at Kyl’s hypocrisy, but NRO’s Dan Foster objects:
First of all, I’m not sure where the “gotcha” moment is. The most natural — nay, the most blindingly obvious — way to interpret Kyl’s statement is that a tax cut paid for by a tax increase is no tax cut at all. It’s a tax redistribution. Second of all, I’m sure if you asked Senator Kyl, he’d tell you that tax cuts should be offset — by spending cuts. That also seems a fairly natural inference to draw here.
On Foster’s first point, sure. Revenue neutral tax fiddling is — well, revenue neutral. But on his second point, can I point out that, natural inference or not, Kyl did not, in fact, say that tax cuts should be offset by spending cuts. In his interview with Kyl, Chris Wallace repeatedly pointed out that the portion of the Bush tax cuts that apply to the upper brackets would cost $678 billion if they were extended. But even with all the opportunity in the world, Kyl failed to explain that he thinks there’s $678 billion in spending cuts that Congress should push through in order to make up for that.
So here’s the question: does anyone seriously believe that Kyl thinks this? Or that anyone in the Republican leadership thinks this? Or that $678 billion in specific spending cuts will get even a hundredth of the attention that they give to their PR campaign to extend the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy?
Foster is right that this is a philosophical point. But he’s got the philosophy wrong. Republicans are dedicated to tax cuts for the rich, not to leaner, meaner, smaller government. Real-world evidence to the contrary is welcome.