Every time talk of cutting taxes has come up in Congress this year, Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee has warned that legislation cannot add a penny to the federal debt — “the greatest threat to our nation,” in his words.
Yet at each juncture, Corker (R) has supported moving along a tax bill that would blow a $1.5 trillion hole in the budget in the next decade, only offering a vague promise that the issue would be addressed in final legislation.
“There’s a snowballing mind-set that’s taken hold that they must pass a big tax cut, and the political momentum behind it is great,” said Bob Bixby, executive director of the Concord Coalition, a nonpartisan organization that advocates for fiscal responsibility. “And it takes guts to stand in front of an avalanche and say stop.”
Still, Bixby is skeptical that even the “trigger” that Corker is pursuing will make a real difference, since lawmakers could waive it at a later date to avoid broad tax increases. Bixby said Republicans could have chosen to structure the tax plan so it would have no impact on the debt.
“It might look like a face-saving device, a fig leaf,” Bixby said. “If there was a real concern about deficits, they could do this revenue-neutral.”