Jonathan Chait comments on the Republican Congress’ insistence on “paying for” domestic spending only with offsetting measures.
“Obviously, this makes it extremely hard to increase domestic spending. Republicans oppose tax increases for any reason at all, because, as Grover Norquist has taught them, raising taxes even a tiny amount makes the baby Reagan cry. In theory, they like cutting spending, but in practice, the only spending programs they actually specify for reductions are the ones aimed at poor people, which Democrats don’t like to cut, creating a stalemate.”
“The problem for Republicans is that there are some domestic programs they not only don’t want to cut but prefer to expand. The inability to maintain transportation infrastructure has created huge problems for business, which has been lobbying for years to fix it.”
“So the bipartisan solution is to reform the international business tax, create a big onetime tax cut for companies that bring overseas profits home, and then use the windfall to finance roads. This plan would increase revenue in the short-run, then create a permanent long-term drain:”
“But these are the traps Congress finds itself in when it attempts to reconcile practical recognition of the need for government with rules designed to prevent pragmatism in any form. It’s possible to find temporary workarounds rather than confront the irrationality of the Republican anti-tax religion. But there are only so many gimmicks and they only last so long.”