Republicans: We Were Just Kidding About Deficit Reduction

We know you’re all focused on the contempt resolution and Benghazi, but don’t forget that the House will be debating a permanent extension of the research & development tax credit later this afternoon. To recap some numbers for you, before you write your stories:

  • $155 billion: cost of the Republican R&D bill, unpaid for, on the Floor today.
  • $310 billion: cost of all six tax extender bills, unpaid for, passed by the Ways and Means Committee last week (including R&D).
  • $9.875 billion: cost of the Senate bill, fully paid for, extending emergency unemployment insurance for five months to nearly three million Americans looking for work – House Republicans insisted it be offset, which the Senate did on a bipartisan basis, yet they still refuse to allow a vote.

Which brings us to this New Republic piece, which recaps House Republicans’ “we were just kidding” attitude on deficit reduction:

“Republicans are intent on moving ahead with legislation to make permanent six tax extenders, which expired at the end of last year, at a cost of nearly $400 billion. As I pointed out last week, this position is hypocritical because Republicans have demanded spending offsets for every policy Democrats have proposed during the last few years. But when it comes to tax cuts, that rule no longer applies, apparently.”

“‘We have essentially been allowing an R&D tax credit since 1981 in this country,’ House Majority Leader Eric Cantor said on Monday about one of the six tax extenders. ‘So let's just call it what it is and make it permanent so that we can get back on the path to growth. Addressing growth, addressing our unfunded liabilities connected with entitlement programs—that is the sure way to reduce deficits and reduce the debt burden.’”

“Read that last sentence again, except imagine Cantor used it in support of extending unemployment insurance instead of a deficit-increasing tax cut. It works perfectly. In fact, because the UI extension is temporary and the Republican tax cut is permanent, it makes even more sense. But that's not how Cantor sees it.”

Too bad there isn’t a way to pay for these tax extenders… Oh wait, there is! House Republican leaders could actually listen to the American people and their Members and bring comprehensive immigration reform to the Floor.  H.R. 15 would reduce the deficit by $900 billion over twenty years (including $200 billion over the first ten years) – more than enough to pay for the R&D tax credit. We could take care of a lot of things at once: extend the R&D tax credit permanently, fix our broken immigration system, and restore emergency unemployment insurance for nearly three million Americans.