Why the right might balk at a ‘grand bargain’

WHY THE RIGHT MIGHT BALK AT A ‘GRAND BARGAIN’…. There’s been a fair amount of chatter this month about a “grand bargain” on the budget. Indeed, there have been ongoing, bipartisan talks between six senators who envision a sweeping compromise that tackle entitlements, tax reform, and deficit reduction, all at the same time.

The bargain, if one ever actually comes together, is very likely to be seen as ugly from the left, but negotiators at least seem to appreciate the fact that any serious deficit reduction plan has to include both sides of the ledger. Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) isn’t exactly a moderate, but he conceded a few weeks ago that tax increases will have to “be a part of the mix.”

Guess how that’s playing out on the Hill.

Some [Senate Republicans] are concerned that a deficit reduction package being negotiated by Sens. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) and Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), two of the chamber’s leading conservatives, could include hundreds of billions of dollars worth of tax hikes. […]

Some conservatives in the Senate worry that Coburn, Crapo, and a third negotiator, Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.), might endorse tax reforms that would increase the total amount the federal government collects in taxes.

“The Republicans involved in this are miscalculating the environment right now,” said a GOP aide. “We’re marching on with the House and Senate Republicans united over reducing government spending, shrinking the size of government.

“We have the wind at our backs,” said the aide. “The best way to stop that momentum is have some Republicans and respected conservatives break off and talk about tax increases,” said the aide.

And we’re reminded once again why it’s so difficult to take the right seriously on fiscal issues. We’re on track to have a $1.5 trillion deficit this year, which conservatives believe threatens the very fabric of civilization. But told that some tax increases might be in the mix, these same conservatives are already balking.

The federal tax burden is already at the lowest levels we’ve seen in generations, and elimination of the Bush-era tax breaks could make a huge difference in bringing down the deficit in a hurry. But the right is already unhappy with talk of a “grand bargain,” the details of which don’t even exist yet. Any tax increase on anyone at any time is necessarily unacceptable.

This isn’t going to turn out well.