I think he means this as a generic gesture of goodwill, i.e. let’s not start drawing lines until we’ve at least met face to face, but I bet a lot of grim, knowing glances and nods are being exchanged at Americans for Tax Reform right now.
A leading Republican lawmaker would not rule out tax increases on Thursday if they could boost economic growth, adding that “everything is on the table” for a congressional panel charged with forging a deal to cut the deficit.
Representative Dave Camp, head of the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee in the House of Representatives, told Reuters in a telephone interview that the deepening global financial crisis would prompt him and other super committee members to pull together…
“I don’t want to rule anything in or out,” Camp said. “I am willing to discuss all issues that might help us reduce our short and long-term debt and grow our economy,” Camp said…
“Economic growth and job creation in the private sector — that’s what we need to use as a benchmark about any policy, but particularly tax policy,” Camp said.
So there’s the escape clause. Everything’s on the table if it’ll grow the economy, which makes tax reform (lower rates with fewer loopholes) a potential point of compromise but not so much tax hikes. Nothing new or blockbuster-y about that, but by linking the Committee’s mission to job creation, Camp’s handing the Democrats an opening. Even most Republicans accept the impact of government spending on growth well enough that they didn’t dare risk hitting the debt ceiling lest a sudden 40 percent cut in federal outlays plunge the economy back into recession. If Camp is framing the Super Committee as a job-creating engine and not just a debt-slashing machine, it gives Democrats every reason to fight even harder against deep cuts. The theoretically proper way to frame this, I think, is that the debt is at such a crisis point that we have to reduce it by every available means, regardless of what it means for economic growth. (Which, in that case, would encourage Democrats to demand huge tax hikes come what may.) But framing it that way would be pure poison given the public’s priorities of jobs over deficit reduction, so Camp’s doing the smart thing politically and hoping that Keynes fatigue among voters will keep Democrats on the Committee in check.
Speaking of tax hikes and the Super Committee, Pelosi’s three appointees are James Clyburn, Xavier Becerra, and Chris Van Hollen. Anything odd about that? Well, Van Hollen used to chair the DCCC and accordingly has built important relationships with donors as a fundraiser for the party. Coincidentally, Patty Murray’s the current head of the DSCC and is also a member of the Super Committee. How open to compromise do you think those two will be knowing that they have to go hat in hand to angry liberals next year? Conversely, how easily influenced do you think they’ll be by prominent donors looking to have some influence on the Committee? In fact, Becerra, who’s voted no on every debt compromise measure to hit the House floor, is already fundraising off of today’s appointment. Priorities.
But that’s not the worst of it. Philip Klein:
Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., three picks to serve on the joint Congressional deficit-reduction panel have all advocated massive tax hikes this year, with two of the appointees having voted for the radical budget plan put together by House liberals.
The so-called “People’s Budget,” proposed by the Congressional Progressive Caucus as an alternative to Rep. Paul Ryan’s plan, was so liberal that it only received 77 votes in the House (with 108 Democrats voting “no.”) But Reps. James Clyburn, D-S.C., and Xavier Becerra, D-Calif., whom Pelosi named to the committee today, were among the few “yes” votes.
According to Ryan’s office, it would hike taxes by $16 trillion relative to his House-passed plan.
In other words, as expected, Pelosi’s three appointees will all be reliable no votes on a final deal as soon as they take their seats. That leaves the Senate Democrats — Murray, Baucus, and Kerry — to provide the decisive seventh vote on any Republican plan. I thought Baucus would be the likeliest candidate for that, but the left is worried about someone else. Will John Kerry end up being the GOP’s new best friend? Exit quotation: “Like President Obama, Kerry is fatally attracted to the notion of a grand bargain…”