Grover Norquist: Paul Ryan knows Democrats' tax tricks
Paul Ryan gets plenty of credit for his strengths as a candidate for the vice presidency with Mitt Romney: his youth, success in winning in a democrat leaning district conveniently placed in the now swing state of Wisconsin with 10 electoral votes, his pleasant personality, strong speaking skills, and his expertise and leadership in budget and tax issues in Congress.
But little focus has been paid to Ryan's first real live fire test — his participation in the Simpson-Bowles "deficit commission." The commission was the invention of President Obama and was designed to recreate the 1982 budget deal where Ronald Reagan agreed to $80 billion dollars in tax hikes over three years in return for a promise of spending cuts of $240 Billion — $3 in spending reduction for every dollar of tax hikes. The tax hikes were real and permanent. We still pay them 30 years later. Spending, however, was not reduced. Real spending increased.
This Lucy-and-the-football trick was repeated in 1990, when George H.W. Bush fell for a similar deal promising $2 of phony spending cuts for every dollar of real and painful tax hike. Bush lost the presidency as punishment.
Two Republican presidents were talked into agreeing to bad deals that violated their principled opposition to higher taxes in the hopes that Democrats would reduce spending.
Ryan led the House Republican delegation of three to the so-called deficit commission, and when he saw the proposal drafted by the two chairmen working alone — former Wyoming senator Alan Simpson and former Clinton chief of staff Erskine Bowles —Ryan led opposition to the plan.
The plan looked a great deal like the 1982 and 1990 budget deals. Nothing written down in legislative language, leaving plenty of fuzziness. Simpson and Bowles claimed they cut $3 of spending for every dollar of tax hike.
Ryan pointed out that the proposal called for increasing taxes such that the federal government would absorb not the 18.5% of GDP each year, the average over the past 30 years or so, but 21%. That meant $5 trillion in higher taxes over the decade.
Paul Ryan has already faced a test that even Reagan and Bush 41 failed, showing courage and a firm grasp of the lessons of history. Very presidential.With the establishment news media and all the best minds in political punditry shouting from the sidelines to accept this massive tax hike disguised as a compromise, Ryan stood firm and called out the tax hike with vague promises of spending restraint for what it was: anotherTrojan Horse for higher taxes. He did what Reagan did in Reykjavik, Iceland. He had the strength to walk away from a bad deal even through it would disappoint the establishment.
Grover Norquist is president of Americans for Tax Reform.