Tax Fairy Watch

TAX FAIRY WATCH…. Roll Call had a fascinating headline today, following Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-Ky.) appearance on CNN over the weekend. The headline read: “McConnell Blasts Deficit Spending, Urges Extension of Tax Cuts.”

It’s part of the newest push in Republican politics — the notion that tax cuts don’t add to the deficit, all evidence to the contrary notwithstanding, because they pay for themselves. Thirty years ago this was considered “voodoo economics” by even many Republicans, but more recently, it’s been labeled belief in the “tax fairy.”

Credible economists dismiss the argument as nonsense, but the Republican Party in its entirety doesn’t seem to care. Yesterday, House Republican Conference Chairman Mike Pence (R-Ind.) toed the party line.

“The reality is that as you study — when President Kennedy cut marginal tax rates, when Ronald Reagan cut marginal tax rates, when President Bush imposed those tax cuts, they actually generated economic growth, they expand the economy, they expand tax revenue,” Pence said.

This morning, Florida’s GOP Senate hopeful Marco Rubio demanded more tax cuts for the wealthy. When asked how he’d pay for them, he replied:

“Well, the question is they will be paid for because they create economic growth, especially in the long-term.”

As a substantive matter, all of this is gibberish. The problem is the ubiquity of the gibberish in GOP circles.

This most recent push started about a week ago with Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) insisting that spending increases need to be paid for, but lawmakers shouldn’t even try to pay for tax cuts. California Senate hopeful Carly Fiorina (R) soon followed, declaring, “You don’t need to pay for tax cuts. They pay for themselves.” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) soon added that Bush’s tax cuts, which created huge deficits, actually “increased revenue.” Sen. Judd Gregg (R-N.H.) agreed that “tax cuts should not have to be offset.” A few days later, Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) managed to sound even dumber, insisting that $678 billion in tax cuts for the wealthy are “not a cost.”

As we talked about last week, these developments have made abundantly clear that conservative Republicans don’t care at all about reducing the deficit, but that’s really just the beginning of the larger revelation here. By embracing economic nonsense with such enthusiasm, Republicans are also making it painfully obvious that they don’t care about reality, either.

Krugman’s label — “invincible ignorance” — continues to ring true.