McConnell trips over his own tax rhetoric

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) spoke to reporters at the Christian Science Monitor breakfast, and talked in some detail about why tax increases won’t be part of any bipartisan deal. Dave Weigel noted one argument, in particular, that stood out.

“I, as you recall, negotiated in December an extension of current tax rates. They still had 59 Democrats and a 40-seat majority in the House when the vice president and I negotiated an extension of the current tax rates, and the president went around and said to do otherwise would be bad for the economy. Now, does anybody in this room think the economy is better now than it was in December? I don’t think so. So, look: Taxes aren’t going to be raised.”

That sounded to me like an admission that the tax cut deal hadn’t worked — which meant extending Bush rates plus adding sweeteners didn’t work. And that wasn’t what many Republicans were saying in January, when early job numbers pointed to a possible recovery. I asked McConnell to expand on that: If keeping the Bush tax rates wasn’t helping the economy any, why would we expect keeping those rates, or lowering them, would lead to growth?

“Well, if borrowing a trillion dollars in spending, largely on government, and over-regulating the economy, is good for the economy, we’d be in a boom time. So my view is: Quit doing what we’ve been doing. You certainly don’t want to raise taxes in the middle of the recession, which the president [agreed with] in December.”

If we needed a reminder that Mitch McConnell has no idea what he’s talking about, this ought to do the trick.

I’ve read this a few times, and I’m still not entirely sure what he’s even trying to say. McConnell said in 2001 and 2003 that massive tax cuts, which Republicans didn’t even try to pay for, would do wonders for the economy. He was strikingly wrong.

McConnell said in December that if we just keep Bush-era rates in place, we’d see great economic growth in 2011. By his own admission this morning, McConnell now believes this prediction was wrong, too.

And now he believes we need to “quit doing what we’ve been doing”? Huh? What “we’ve been doing” is waiting for failed tax cuts to work. McConnell’s argument, in a nutshell, is that tax cuts didn’t boost the economy, so we can’t consider tax increases.

I’m not sure how this guy even got elected, worse yet become the leader of a major party Senate caucus.