House Speaker John Boehner’s (R-Ohio) office seemed awfully excited this week about a report from the National Association of Business Economists. Boehner’s press release proclaimed:
A majority of economists surveyed believe spending cuts are the key to reducing the federal deficit — not job-crushing tax hikes. […]
The report … reflects the sentiment of the American people who oppose tax hikes “in a big way,” according to US News. Republicans are listening.
I can’t say whether Republicans are listening, but they certainly don’t appear to be reading.
Let’s set the record straight. For one thing, arguing that the public opposes any and all tax increases is demonstrably ridiculous. For months, dozens of independent national polls have shown strong public support for tax hikes on the wealthy. Indeed, the demand for higher taxes is bipartisan and consistent. Boehner can pretend reality doesn’t exist, but it doesn’t change the facts.
But more important is the report from the National Association of Business Economists that the Speaker’s office is so excited about. Does it show that most economists want spending cuts, “not job-crushing tax hikes”? Actually, no, it doesn’t.
Jim Tankersley took a closer look at the NABE survey.
A wide majority of respondents believe the federal government should reduce its budget deficit with a combination of spending cuts and, at least in small part, tax increases.
Only 12 percent said the deficit should be reduced “only with spending cuts.” […]
So, in total, nearly 88 percent of working business economists disagreed with the House GOP mantra that, as Boehner’s office put it in Monday’s press release, “spending cuts are the key to reducing the federal deficit – not job-crushing tax hikes.”
Most Americans want a balanced approach to debt reduction, which would include revenue and cuts, and most economists agree. Boehner’s office, in print, argued the exact opposite.
Either the Speaker’s office is touting a survey it didn’t read, or Boehner’s aides are deliberately trying to deceive reporters and the public. I’m leaning towards the latter — the NABE announcement said in the headline that economists “favor a ‘balanced’ approach that mixes spending cuts with revenue increases.” Even House Republican aides would have found this hard to miss.
Regardless, for Boehner to brag about a survey that shows economists opposed to his own tax policy is kind of hilarious.