This is definitely one of those moments in which I don’t understand what Republicans don’t understand.
So, Brendan Buck, House Speaker John Boehner’s (R-Ohio) press secretary, thinks the Democratic talking point on tax loopholes has been “punctured” because White House Press Secretary Jay Carney has “finally admitted” that Republicans support closing said loopholes.
I haven’t the foggiest idea what this is supposed to mean.
The basics are not at all complicated. Democrats and Republicans agree that the federal tax code is littered with loopholes, unnecessary deductions, and lucrative giveaways. Democrats and Republicans also agree that it makes sense to reform the tax laws, simplify the system, and save the public hundreds of billions of dollars.
The parties disagree, however, about what to do with the savings. Democrats want to close the tax loopholes and apply the new revenue to lowering the deficit and reducing the nation’s long-term debts. Republicans also want to close the tax loopholes, but instead want to apply the savings to more tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans “job creators.”
None of this is new. On the contrary, this is just a basic summary of the standing argument that both sides of the aisle have been dealing with for quite a while.
Jay Carney said as much today, which for some reason, Boehner’s press secretary sees as some kind of moment of great triumph, which reinforces for me a broader problem.
The larger point, of course, is that Buck’s strange message serves as a reminder of why the fiscal debate is going so poorly: the two sides do not share a common foundation of reality. Republicans think the deficit is getting larger (it’s getting smaller), they’re sure spending is spiraling out of control (spending isn’t even rising), they think Democrats haven’t cut spending (they have), and they see dangerous extortion tactics as necessary to reduce the long-term debt (the parties have already approved $2.5 trillion in debt reduction).
With this in mind, even after months of debate, the House Speaker’s press secretary sees a routine observation as an important admission that “punctures” talking points, even if said observation wasn’t an admission and doesn’t puncture anything.
In other words, GOP officials aren’t even speaking the same language as everyone else anymore, which limits the odds of legislative success.