Now here's a good headline for America: "Cantor Signals Flexibility On Tax Loopholes." Does this mean that during tomorrow's White House debt ceiling meeting, the House Majority Leader may in fact consider modest revenue increases as part of any deficit-reduction package? Finally? No, not really.
The "flexibility on tax loopholes" that the AP has been reporting is hardly a break from the Norquistian anti-tax cult that defines the entire Republican party in Washington. As Grover Norquist himself says, "Every dollar of tax increase is a dollar you didn't get in spending restraint." In other words, in what world does starving the beast entail giving the beast delicious food to eat? The "flexibility on tax loopholes" that Eric Cantor "signaled" today cleverly answers this question: You can give the beast food, as long as you prevent the beast from digesting it!
What we're trying to say is that Republicans will only allow revenue increases that are then given away with other tax cuts:
"Why would you want to raise taxes in a sputtering economy?" asked Cantor. "Any discussion about loopholes must be offset by tax cuts. We're not for increasing revenue."
Again: This debate, for the Republican party, is not about deficit reduction. It is about using the deficit as a political vehicle for reducing the size and scope of government, as a percentage of GDP, as much as possible. The Republican party is within its rights to attempt this, but don't ever imagine that a plan calling for draconian spending cuts and zero increases in revenue ever has "deficit reduction" as its overarching priority. It rules out the possibility of compromise from the start and rests on the assumption that Democrats will cave on the brink, because arguing with the likes of Eric Cantor for months at a time usually gets pretty fucking tiresome. Not a bad assumption, really.
[Image via AP]