Tax Deal Chart

by Rich Lowry

We decided to throw another question to potential presidential candidates: “If given the opportunity to vote ‘yes’ or ‘no’ on the Obama-McConnell tax deal as it currently stands (i.e., no further revisions), how would you vote?”

Newt Gingrich’s people said he wouldn’t answer this one, for some reason. Tim Pawlenty is a “yes,” with more of an explanation below, and John Bolton is also a “yes” and provides more context below.

Will update as we get more.

 
Q. If given the opportunity to vote “yes” or “no” on the Obama-McConnell tax deal as it currently stands (i.e., no further revisions), how would you vote?
  Yes No Don’t Know
John Bolton     X    
Mitch Daniels         
Newt Gingrich     N/A
 N/A  N/A 
Mike Huckabee         
Gary Johnson         
Sarah Palin         
Tim Pawlenty    X
   
Mike Pence         
Mitt Romney         
Rick Santorum         
John Thune         

A Pawlenty aide writes:

“Gov. Pawlenty was asked about this on Neil Cavuto on Friday. He said he’d support the deal, but with obvious reluctance. Here’s the clip & rough transcript.

John Bolton writes:

I would vote “yes” on the original deal as negotiated between Senator McConnell and President Obama.  We should recognize the deal, however, only as a temporary compromise.  It solves little or nothing from further political debate, as President Obama has already pledged from his side.  Starting January 1,everything is back in play.

If my arm were twisted hard enough, I would vote for the bill introduced by Senator Reid, which the Wall Street Journal rightly says is “becoming a favor festival.”  I would not accept any further changes from anyone, except removing whatever of the Reid add-ons it might be possible to eliminate through whatever creative parliamentary maneuvers are available.

There are two critical points here. 

First is a matter of high principle.  The Republican policy objective on taxes, starting now, should be to move toward a flat-tax approach, lowering tax rates and eliminating or simplifying the structure of deductions, exclusions, exemptions, and credits that have built up over the years, largely to mitigate against progressive marginal tax rates or to benefit special interests with sufficient political clout. 

That means, Iowa caucuses or no Iowa caucuses, that the “Hawkeye Handout” and its ilk have to be disappeared.  The ultimate aim of tax policy should be to raise the necessary revenues for government with the minimal possible distortion of individual and business decision making.  Tax policy should not be social policy, and it should minimize or eliminate the distortions in productive economic activity that are endemic under our current tax laws.

Second is a matter of practical politics.  Senator McConnell and all Congressional Republicans must set a precedent now that a deal with President Obama is also a deal with his entire party.  What Senator Reid has already done, and what Speaker Pelosi longs to do, is to get second and third bites at our apple.  We should tell them unambiguously:  Forget it!  If Congressional Republicans succumb to serial negotiations now or during the next two years, they will be making a serious error.