When the truth leads to ‘eye-rolling’

President Obama talked with congressional Republican leaders in the East Room for over an hour this morning, and by all accounts, the two sides aren’t exactly getting along. I’ll have more on this as more details emerge, but there’s a point about taxes that’s worth emphasizing.

ABC’s Jake Tapper reported that Obama reminded GOP lawmakers that “the U.S. has the lowest tax rate as a percentage of GDP since the 1950s. We’ve been on an experiment of low tax rates for the last decade, and growth has been anemic, he said. He noted that cutting taxes is smart to do politically, but the question is whether it is sustainable.”

The Hill added that Republicans found all of this rather annoying.

Republicans attending a White House meeting on Wednesday didn’t take kindly to President Obama telling them tax rates were higher during the Reagan administration.

GOP members engaged in a lot of “eye-rolling,” according to a member who was on hand to hear Obama, who invited House Republicans to the White House for discussions on the debt ceiling. The White House and Republicans are trying to reach a deal on spending cuts that could allow the $14.3 debt ceiling to be raised.

“[The President] made a comment like the tax rate is the lightest, even more than (under former President) Reagan,” Rep. Lee Terry (R-Neb.) told The Hill following the meeting.

House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) joked that during the meeting, “We learned we had the lowest tax rates in history … lower than Reagan!”

Yeah, that’s hilarious. The “eye-rolling” notwithstanding, I’d remind Republicans that the president happens to be right about this.

Americans really are paying the smallest share of their income for taxes since 1958. Even Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), who isn’t exactly a New England moderate, acknowledges the historically low tax rates.

Sure, this is inconvenient for Republicans. After all, their little experiment failed miserably. Reagan raised taxes and the economy grew; Clinton raised taxes and the economy grew; and Bush slashed taxes, the economy crashed, and we lost a decade. The jobs and growth Republicans assured us would be the inevitable consequence of these lower rates never materialized, and all we’re left with is a tax-cut driven debt these same GOP officials now pretend to care about.

Republicans got the tax policy they wanted and it failed. Instead of rolling their eyes, maybe they should roll up their sleeves, own up to their mistakes, and work on a new policy.