Daniel J. Mitchell
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The politicians claim that they are negotiating about how best to reduce the deficit. That irks me because our fiscal problem is excessive government spending. Red ink is merely a symptom of that underlying problem.

But that’s a rhetorical gripe. My bigger concern is that politicians are prevaricating. They’re really talking about higher taxes in order to enable a bigger burden of government spending, not less red ink. I make this point in an interview on Fox Business Network.

This is the point where I often elaborate on issues raised in the interview, but let’s instead build on the discussion to look at policy and political reasons why the GOP  should not surrender to Obama’s tax demands as part of fight over the fiscal cliff

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Here are the policy arguments against higher taxes.

1. There is no need for higher taxes since the budget can be balanced merely by restraining spending so that it grows 2.5 percent each year.

According to the most recent Congressional Budget Office fiscal estimate, the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts can be made permanent and red ink can be wiped out in just 10 years so long as politicians simply control the growth of federal spending so that outlays don’t grow faster than 2.5 percent each year. Other nations have shown that this type of spending restraint is very successful, while no nation has ever taxed its way to fiscal success.

2. Since the tax increases stick and the supposed spending cuts quickly evaporate, budget deals that raise taxes have a long history of failure.

Last year, in an article that was designed to browbeat Republicans for being unreasonable about tax hikes, a New York Times columnist inadvertently revealed that the only budget deal that actually led to a fiscal surplus was the 1997 agreement that lowered taxes instead of increasing them. None of the tax-hike budget deals ever resulted in a balanced budget.

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Daniel J. Mitchell

Daniel J. Mitchell is a top expert on tax reform and supply-side tax policy at the Cato Institute.