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Former Republican Senate Budget Committee Staffer Blasts Paul Ryan

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Mike Lofgren, the Republican Congressional staffer made famous when he published an op-ed explaining why he left the GOP, has gone on to publish a number of articles blasting the modern GOP. His latest, published on the Huffington Post, takes issue with Paul Ryan’s claim that Obama dismissed the Simpson-Bowles report. Rather, Lofgren argues, Ryan himself, as a member of the Committee, blew it up.

A key component of the Simpson-Bowles package was its tax policy, which to allGOP Vice Presidential Candidate Paul Ryan appearances came straight from the Republican playbook. As opposed to a progressive income tax system (during the Eisenhower administration the top marginal rate was 91 percent), many in the GOP have been pushing for at least 30 years for a flat tax scheme, whereby hedge fund billionaires and ditch diggers will pay the same rate. The GOP’s rhetorical halfway house to achieving this goal is “tax reform,” whereby rates will be lowered, flattened (with fewer rate steps) and broadened (with more low-income earners paying income tax because of the removal of deductions and tax credits).

And that is precisely what the Simpson-Bowles tax proposal did: it lowered, flattened, and broadened the tax system, just as House GOP commission members Ryan, Dave Camp, and Jeb Hensarling repeatedly advocated during the commission’s deliberations. But there was just one fly in the ointment.

The commission’s overriding mission was to reduce outyear deficits, and revenue loss would make this goal more difficult if everyone were paying a lower rate. So the commission staff proposed to tax capital and labor at the same rate: in other words, the hypothetical hedge fund billionaire’s capital gains and dividends would no longer be taxed at the current preferential 15 percent rate, but at the top marginal rate of 28 percent. This proposal, along with the capping and elimination of many deductions, meant the commission’s tax plan actually brought in more revenue than current policy, thereby reducing the deficit.

Now comes the dirty little secret of the GOP’s real, as opposed to pretended, tax policy. It is not just that they want the leveraged buyout artist paying the same federal tax rates as a cop or school teacher, they want a buyout artist to pay a lower rate — or no taxes at all. When presented with the commission’s plan, which would lower outyear deficits by $4 trillion, the three House GOP deficit hawks Ryan, Camp and Hensarling voted to reject it. President Obama “did exactly nothing” because the commission’s proposal was dead: Paul Ryan had helped kill it.

Ryan’s opposition to the commission’s recommendation was logical even if his misrepresentation of it was deplorable. His own budget features capital gains and dividend tax rates of zero. No wonder the purported arch-deficit hawk was unable to tell Brit Hume when his budget would balance. In truth, it will not balance within decades, even with the most favorable economic assumptions.

That is the next dirty little truth: when presented with a clear choice between deficit reduction and further lowering taxes on their rich contributors, Ryan and most of his GOP colleagues will unhesitatingly opt for the latter. All the tough talk about deficits is so much eyewash intended to fool gullible Tea Partyers.A key component of the Simpson-Bowles package was its tax policy, which to all appearances came straight from the Republican playbook. As opposed to a progressive income tax system (during the Eisenhower administration the top marginal rate was 91 percent), many in the GOP have been pushing for at least 30 years for a flat tax scheme, whereby hedge fund billionaires and ditch diggers will pay the same rate. The GOP’s rhetorical halfway house to achieving this goal is “tax reform,” whereby rates will be lowered, flattened (with fewer rate steps) and broadened (with more low-income earners paying income tax because of the removal of deductions and tax credits).

And that is precisely what the Simpson-Bowles tax proposal did: it lowered, flattened, and broadened the tax system, just as House GOP commission members Ryan, Dave Camp, and Jeb Hensarling repeatedly advocated during the commission’s deliberations. But there was just one fly in the ointment.

The commission’s overriding mission was to reduce outyear deficits, and revenue loss would make this goal more difficult if everyone were paying a lower rate. So the commission staff proposed to tax capital and labor at the same rate: in other words, the hypothetical hedge fund billionaire’s capital gains and dividends would no longer be taxed at the current preferential 15 percent rate, but at the top marginal rate of 28 percent. This proposal, along with the capping and elimination of many deductions, meant the commission’s tax plan actually brought in more revenue than current policy, thereby reducing the deficit.

Now comes the dirty little secret of the GOP’s real, as opposed to pretended, tax policy. It is not just that they want the leveraged buyout artist paying the same federal tax rates as a cop or school teacher, they want a buyout artist to pay a lower rate — or no taxes at all. When presented with the commission’s plan, which would lower outyear deficits by $4 trillion, the three House GOP deficit hawks Ryan, Camp and Hensarling voted to reject it. President Obama “did exactly nothing” because the commission’s proposal was dead: Paul Ryan had helped kill it.

Ryan’s opposition to the commission’s recommendation was logical even if his misrepresentation of it was deplorable. His own budget features capital gains and dividend tax rates of zero. No wonder the purported arch-deficit hawk was unable to tell Brit Hume when his budget would balance. In truth, it will not balance within decades, even with the most favorable economic assumptions.

That is the next dirty little truth: when presented with a clear choice between deficit reduction and further lowering taxes on their rich contributors, Ryan and most of his GOP colleagues will unhesitatingly opt for the latter. All the tough talk about deficits is so much eyewash intended to fool gullible Tea Partyers.

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Written by Valerie Curl

September 6, 2012 at 1:29 PM

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