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GOP walks tightrope on taxes, deficit


Congressional Republicans haven't had an easy time reconciling their pursuit to extend the Bush tax cuts -- even for families earning more than $250,000 per year -- with their stated desire to also reduce the size of the deficit.

After all, the Treasury Department estimates that extending all the Bush tax cuts would carry a price tag of nearly $3.7 trillion over 10 years. Extending the tax cuts for those making less than $250,000 would cost $3 trillion over 10 years.

Here was Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell on "Meet the Press" on Sunday:

MR. GREGORY: But my question is how do you pay for an extension of tax cuts? Because if you're concerned, as Republicans say they are, about cutting spending and the deficit, you have to acknowledge that tax cuts are not paid for.

SEN. McCONNELL: Well, what, what, what, what are you talking about paid for? This is existing tax policy. It's been in place for 10 years. What they're talking about is raising taxes, impacting 50 percent of small business income in the middle of what most Americans think is a recession. That is not a responsible thing to do in my judgment.

And here was House Minority Leader John Boehner today in his economic speech:

Listen, we need to have an honest conversation with the American people about the scope of our fiscal challenges -- that means everything from short-term commitments to long-term commitments.

It is an act of bad faith -- and bad judgment -- to start this conversation by imposing job-killing tax hikes on families and small businesses.

Failing to rein in these debts is our own fault -- both Democrats and Republicans. We should not punished unemployed workers and small business owners for our inability to make the tough choices we were elected to make.

We need to start looking at every government program and ask ourselves: Is it right to force our grandkids to pay for this? As Mitch Daniels, the governor of Indiana, recently said: "You'd really be amazed at how much government you'd never miss."

The possible equivalent of what Boehner was saying: I know I need to lose a significant amount of weight, but let me hit the all-you-can-eat buffet at Shoney's before I start that diet.