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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Double Talk On Taxes

Since it’s reasonably clear the president is going to talk about the need for more revenues in his budget speech today, the theological opposition of the Republican Party to any measures that raise tax rates on the wealthy is of more than passing interest right now. And according to Politico‘s Jake Sherman, there are signs John Boehner, of his own volition or under pressure, is back-tracking on prior statements that revenues, like everything else, are “on the table” in budget talks.

[O]n Tuesday Boehner seemed to firm up his stance in advance of President Barack Obama’s speech on the deficit at George Washington University Wednesday, calling tax increases a non-starter.
“(I)f the President begins the discussion by saying we must increase taxes on the American people – as his budget does – my response will be clear: tax increases are unacceptable and are a nonstarter,” Boehner said in a statement. “We don’t have deficits because Americans are taxed too little, we have deficits because Washington spends too much. And, at a time when the American people face skyrocketing prices at the pump, energy tax hikes are a particularly bad idea.”

A “non-starter,” eh? But not, according to his spokesman, precisely “off the table”:

A spokesman for Boehner, Michael Steel, added that the statement doesn’t preclude discussion. “What Boehner said is that he’s willing to talk to anyone to try to find common ground,” Steel said.
“Raising taxes will hurt our economy, and it certainly won’t be part of any common ground. We have a spending problem, not a revenue problem, and raising taxes is only going to make it harder for small businesses to create jobs in America.”

So apparently Boehner will talk about taxes so long as it’s understood he is not open to persuasion on the subject. This is how he reconciles roles as Big Time Washington Wheeler Dealer and conservative ideologue.

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