Huelskamp Responds to WSJ Editorial
As submitted to The Wall Street Journal
March 28, 2012
Tuesday’s editorial (“Ryan and the Right”) concludes by stating: “Without [growth and reform] limited government will be nothing more than a tea party slogan and a balanced budget will be nothing more than a tax-increase trap.”
The real “tax-increase trap” is what happens this Sunday, April 1, 2012 and on January 1, 2013. This weekend, the U.S. will achieve the undignified spot of having the highest corporate tax rate in the industrialized world. And, as we ring in the new year, every American and every business owner can expect their taxes to skyrocket: individual income rates for all brackets will increase, long-term capital gains tax rates will be as high as 20%, and the death tax will soar to 55%.
Obviously this is not news to this paper. It was just last week that the Wall Street Journal editorial page chastised politicians for doing nothing over the past two decades to lower corporate tax rates. And, in September 2011, the paper accurately described the pending expiration of the Bush-Obama tax cuts as one of the “biggest tax increases in American history” or a “tax cliff.”
The “tax cliff” is a recipe for disaster – especially because there is no clear Republican strategy to permanently stop all job-killing tax hikes as promised in the 2010 Republican campaign platform “The Pledge to America.” To add to the problems without answers, the Social Security tax holiday will again expire at the end of the year, just about the same time that the U.S. runs out of borrowing authority - again. Republicans had no clear path to fiscal responsibility when we hit the debt ceiling last year or when the payroll tax expired – and that apparently still is the case.
While the Path to Prosperity is a bold campaign statement thanks to Chairman Ryan, Republicans lack the necessary strategy to deal with looming tax increases. Without critical reconciliation instructions (like were used to advance the 1981 Reagan and 2001 and 2003 Bush tax cuts) to force a vote on tax reform and actual implementation of the budget cuts, the budget is reduced to a campaign slogan Tuesday’s editorialists abhorred. Last year’s budget contained “tax reform,” tort reform, patient-centered Medicare and Medicaid reform, and many other great ideas; we passed that budget, but not a single one of these budget “promises" became law. The same fate will befall this year’s budget.
This is not the first time Republicans did not follow through on fiscal promises. The Republicans’ Pledge to America promised $100 billion in cuts. That never happened. The Budget Control Act – the August 2011 debt deal that promised massive spending cuts – is being ignored, too. The American people get it: just saying something does not make it so. By overpromising and underdelivering, Republicans lose a golden opportunity to advance and enact a pro-growth agenda.
But on Tuesday, several House conservatives unveiled the Republican Study Committee alternative budget. It requires the House to take action on tax reform, and to make actual cuts to get both discretionary and mandatory spending under control. These cuts begin quickly and lead to a balanced budget in as few as five years. It is a budget that simultaneously stresses both balance and a pro-growth agenda - with a clear strategy to stop job-killing tax increases.
If the House of Representatives and the rest of Washington cannot address the crises that it faces in the short-term – high corporate and individual tax rates – how can we trust them to deal with the long-term crises, including entitlements and out-of-control debt that will choke America’s future?
It is easy to take a swipe at a freshman congressman like me for not voting for this budget, but I call it like I see it. The American people deserve a budget – like I helped write and introduced as the Republican Study Committee budget – that actually can accomplish their priorities of cutting spending, keeping taxes low, and balancing within a matter of years, not decades.
Tim Huelskamp (R-KS)
Member of Congress