The Senate’s top Republican took a hard stand against raising tax revenue of any kind as part of a final deal on the federal budget, but members of his GOP caucus appear to have other ideas.
Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell has repeatedly taken tried to take off the table any tax policy changes which would raise new revenue for the federal government. This includes the elimination of tax breaks for hedge-fund managers, corporate jets, and others which President Obama and other Democrats are seeking as part of a final agreement on federal spending ahead of a looming Aug. 2 deadline by which the federal debt ceiling must be raised, otherwise the U.S. government is expected to begin defaulting on its obligations.
Other Republicans have expressed a willingness to eliminate federal subsidies as part of a budget deal, however.
Sen. John Cornyn says that rollbacks of special tax breaks “would be a fruitful area for discussion,” according to a story published Tuesday in CQ Today.
Speaking on the NBC news program Meet The Press earlier this month, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) remarked, “No one on the Republican side is going to vote to raise taxes, but I think many of us would look at flattening the tax code, doing away with deductions and exemptions and take that revenue and help pay off the debt. One way to do this is to do away ethanol subsidy and a bunch of other subsides that go to a few people, take that money back into the federal Treasury and pay off the debt.”
According to The Hill, a Washington newspaper, Sen. Dan Coats (R-Ind.) says “it’s entirely appropriate to end niche tax subsidies, or what he calls tax expenditures, to reduce the deficit. He said the thinking has changed since the 2010 election. Before then, he said, the assumption was that money saved from ending tax breaks would be spent on other federal programs.”
Sen. Mike Johanns (R-N.D.), a former agriculture secretary in the Bush administration, also is apparently open to new revenues. He was quoted by Politico as saying, “Trying to figure out what to do with the budget has caused us all to come to grips with some things we’ve supported in the past, all of us.”
Sen. Jon Kyl of Arizona, the second-highest ranking Republican in the Senate, most directly contradicts McConnell. He says that “revenues have never been off the table.”
Scott Nance is the editor and publisher of the news site The Washington Current. He has covered Congress and the federal government for more than a decade.