WHEN DOES EUROPE COUNT?…. There are a growing number of deficit-reduction reports garnering attention in D.C. lately, but the Rivlin/Domenici approach is of particular interest when it comes to taxes.

Former OMB Director Alice Rivlin and former Sen. Pete Domenici (R-N.M.) would lower income taxes, and offset the costs with a 6.5% national sales tax and an excise tax on sugar drinks like soda.

Any chance Republicans might consider something along these lines? Incoming House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) told the Wall Street Journal there’s a problem with this kind of approach.

[Cantor] said Tuesday that many lawmakers wouldn’t support VAT-type tax because its ties to Europe might make it politically poisonous in Washington.

“I don’t think any of us want us to go the direction of the social welfare states around the world,” Mr. Cantor said at the CEO Council.

This is what passes for substantive policy analysis from Eric Cantor. We could debate the relative merits of a consumption tax, or we could dismiss it for sounding “European.”

It would be helpful if, at some point, Republicans could get together and let everyone know when Europe is allowed to be considered. This week, Sen. George Voinovich (R-Ohio) said he doesn’t want to ratify a nuclear arms treaty until he’s satisfied that Europe approves of it. Former half-term Gov. Sarah Palin (R) said last week that quantitative easing from the Fed must be a bad idea if Europe doesn’t like it. For News president Roger Ailes said this week that President Obama should take his cues on monetary policy from Europe.

So, Republicans, what’s it going to be? Are European approaches to be ignored or embraced? Mixed messages aren’t helpful.

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Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.