McConnell thinks midterms settled tax debate

The Republican line on taxes isn’t exactly a mystery: shrinking the deficit is important, but not as important as making sure there are no tax increases on anyone at any time by any amount. That tax cuts are the driving factor behind the massive budget shortfalls over the next decade (and beyond) is apparently unimportant.

How do GOP leaders defend this? Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) tried out this line on CNN’s “State of the Union” yesterday.

CROWLEY: And I think I can get a yes or no from you on this. No tax increases will you accept at all in either the short, the medium or the long term, and that includes close tax loopholes?

MCCONNELL: Well, there aren’t going to be any tax increases. You know, that was settled by last November’s election. The president knows that.

I’m trying to think of a dumber line on fiscal policy. Nothing comes to mind.

The usual Republican position — tax increases necessarily undercut the economy — is absurd enough. But McConnell didn’t even rely on the old canard, choosing instead to make an electoral/policy argument. Americans elected a Democratic president, a Democratic Senate, and a Republican House. Ergo, any and all tax increases are off the table.

I find it hard to believe even Mitch McConnell, for all of his obvious limitations, could actually perceive this as credible.

Indeed, I wonder if he’s even thought this through. In 2009, after two consecutive cycles that went heavily in Democrats’ favor, did that settle the debate and prove the country opposes spending cuts? For that matter, did it also settle the debate and demonstrable voters’ desire for tax increases?

I’m all for the notion that elections have consequences, but McConnell needs to realize how shallow and superficial his nonsense really is. Support for raising taxes, especially on the very wealthy, is actually quite high nationwide. The single most popular approach to deficit reduction is a balanced approach — some tax increases, some spending cuts.

If McConnell wants to make the case that Americans are wrong about this, he should certainly give it a shot. I’d love to hear him try.