Does the deal raise taxes or not?

It's still too early to reach definitive conclusions about the debt-ceiling compromise yet because nobody has seen the actual legislative text that will be voted on by the Senate and House today. But it seems clear that tax reform is about to become a key issue on the national public policy agenda and it is not at all clear what the compromise does on that front.

To listen to our friends at The Wall Street Journal editorial board, the compromise is a “Tea Party triumph” and a “victory for the cause of smaller government, arguably the biggest since welfare reform in 1996. Most bipartisan budget deals trade tax increases that are immediate for spending cuts that turn out to be fictional. This one includes no immediate tax increases, despite President Obama's demand as recently as last Monday.”

But Democrats have a dramatically different view of the compromise, according to White House talking points quoted by Politico's Mike Allen this morning:

“Even Speaker Boehner was open to a deal with $800 billion in revenues, and nearly 20 GOP senators were supportive of the Gang of 6 framework, which had more than $2 trillion in revenue. … The last time an enforcement mechanism like this was used – with 50% domestic and 50% defense cuts – the threat of defense cuts helped drive the 1990 bipartisan budget agreement under President George H.W. Bush that included both revenues and spending reductions.”

For those who don't remember, the 1990 bipartisan budget agreement was the one President George H.W. Bush signed off on despite the fact that it raised taxes and clearly violated his memorable “Read my lips: No new taxes” promise during the 1988 presidential campaign.

 

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