The utter falsity of a statement is no barrier to Republican leaders repeating it. And so it was Sunday, as South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham offered his version of the GOP's Uber Lie that tax cuts pay for themselves.
Appearing on Fox News Sunday, Graham defended the Republicans' demand for another $700 billion windfall for the wealthy by announcing the fiscal equivalent of the sun rising in the west and setting in the east:
"When you look historically, when we raise taxes, the economy slows and we don't get any more revenue. When we cut taxes, the economy grows and we maintain the same amount of revenue."
Not on this planet.
In his version of the Republican myth that "tax cuts pay for themselves," President Bush confidently proclaimed, "You cut taxes and the tax revenues increase." In 2007, Graham's puppet master John McCain explained, "Tax cuts, starting with Kennedy, as we all know, increase revenues." As it turned out, not so much. After Ronald Reagan tripled the national debt with his supply-side tax cuts, George W. Bush doubled it again with his own. And in between, the Clinton years saw robust economic growth, balanced budgets along with higher taxes (which, by the way, every single Republican in the House and Senate voted against.)
In fact, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) found that the Bush tax cuts accounted for almost half of the mushrooming deficits during his tenure. As another CBPP analysis forecast, over the next 10 years, the Bush tax cuts if made permanent will contribute more to the U.S. budget deficit than the Obama stimulus, the TARP program, the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and revenue lost to the recession put together. Predictably, the Bush tax cuts didn't come anywhere close to paying for themselves. And as Congressional Budget Office projections revealed in June, making them permanent is the very worst thing the so-called deficit hawks could do to reduce the U.S. debt.
Sadly, Lindsey Graham's fraud is now orthodoxy in Republican circles. Despite the inescapable conclusion of history, theory and empirical evidence to the contrary, Mitch McConnell, Jon Kyl, John Boehner, Tom Coburn, John McCain, Kay Bailey Hutchison and other Republican alchemists continue to insist that cutting taxes increases government revenue and thereby reduces the deficit. Of course, even though the tax cut claim is laughably false, conservative ideology requires that it must true. Otherwise, the Republicans have just been giving money to rich people.
For more background, charts and data, see "10 Epic Failure of the Bush Tax Cuts."