Huntsman Goes All in For Ryan

September 1st, 2011 at 12:50 am | 15 Comments |

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While watching Jon Huntsman give his remarks on his jobs plan, I paid attention to how his speech described the existential threat of US debt.

Huntsman made clear he supports a Balanced Budget Amendment because “our debt is immoral and should be unconstitutional.” During a question-and-answer session, he added that the debt had to be controlled or it was going to “metastasize and kill this country.”

In the past, Huntsman has taken positions on issues which do not endear him to the conservative base but where he believes Republicans need to change–notably on civil unions and climate change. It’s likely that when he talks about how he wants a Balanced Budget Amendment that he is not pandering. I think he is sincere.

Huntsman says that his jobs plan is based on the Ryan budget and he has also made clear that he would like to see the Ryan budget passed.

The problem for Huntsman is that the Ryan budget is unconstitutional under the terms of the Republicans own Balanced Budget Amendment. Huntsman also says that his tax plan is revenue-neutral so as far as we know, there is no plan to close the gap between the Balanced Budget Amendment’s requirements and Ryan’s budget.

This isn’t a Huntsman specific problem, if other candidates make similar statements they will be trapped in the same box.

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15 Comments so far ↓

  • dittbub

    if it should be illegal that the government have debt, then shouldn’t it also be illegal for anyone to have debt?

    is there any country that bans debt?

    • Pavonis

      I don’t think any country ever tried. Islam and Christianity have historically considered banking sinful but there were always ways around this (by leaving it up to the Jews). And ancient nations sold people who couldn’t repay debts into slavery. Oh no, I don’t want to give the wingnuts any ideas…

  • Scritor

    Huntsman’s failure is that he doubled down on the Ryan budget, a balanced budget amendment, the repeal of health care, financial reform, and Enron reform, and promoted tax rates that exacerbate our structural deficit (no cap gains, no AMT, highest bracket of 23%).

    It’s like he went to the Republican buffet line and took more food than his plate will allow. The crime of Huntsman is that until very recently, he sounded like a reasonable moderate. The tragedy of Huntsman is that to the extent that any of these policy platforms is an unavoidable tax that primary voters levy on potential candidates, he’s dealing with a party that forswears his nomination in favour of policies that are, by any unbiased estimate, bad for the United States.

    • Anonne

      Huntsman’s failure is that he fundamentally misunderstands economics. Why would he want to tie the government’s hands with a balanced budget amendment? It leaves no room to respond to crises, financial or otherwise. WWII could never happen again.

      Good governance does not require a constitutional amendment. It requires the legislature to be conscious of the obligations and not just pander to special interests and sell bs solutions based on magical thinking.

      • Grace

        “WWII could never happen again.”

        You’ll be relieved to learn that the military-industrial complex will do just fine under the House Republican aka Ryan plan, with or without another WWII. The BBA has an exception for war costs, so all that needs to happen for future congresses to ignore the balanced budget requirement is a state of perma-war. How convenient, if not more than a little immoral — baking an incentive for never-ending war into this “fiscally responsible” alleged solution. Truly a wet dream for neocons and crony capitalists.

        Coming up a little short on that balancing stuff? No problem. Just find a corner of the world where we can drum up an excuse to invade and nation-build for the next decade or two.

  • D Furlano

    This is exactly why someone that only understand business should not be in government.

    Someone needs to point out to him that a monetary system is different than a P&L.

  • Elvis Elvisberg

    This isn’t a Huntsman specific problem, if other candidates make similar statements they will be trapped in the same box.

    This is a good post, Noah, but I disagree with the conclusion. It’s only a trap if anyone cares. The right-wing paramedia doesn’t care– if they hear about your post at all, it will be in the context of Mark Levin making fun of your name. The MSM will probably not pick it up, because it involves policy. If they ever do, it will be all “he said/she said” without regard to the facts, just like the debate over the cost of the Bush tax policies that created our current debt.

    So, in logical terms, Huntsman has a problem, but politically? I see no reason to believe that he will. He should just propose balancing the budget by cutting the capital gains tax, torturing Muslims, and invading Syria. That’s the program that earned George W. Bush 75 percent approval from Republicans as he left office. (Cite: http://www.gallup.com/poll/113770/bush-presidency-closes-34-approval-61-disapproval.aspx ) Why mess with success?

  • TerryF98

    The Ryan plan calls for an additional $5 trillion in debt over 10 years. How can you at the same time support that plan AND support a balanced budget amendment?

    It makes no fricking sense, but hey what’s new in bizarro GOP land.

  • dante

    I’m waiting for one sane Republican to state “the national debt is the biggest issue we face today, and therefore I am willing to include higher taxes in my plan to reduce the deficit. The deficit is everyone’s problem, and so everyone must chip in to help”.

    Yeah, I’m not holding my breath.

  • Grace

    According to ThinkProgress, Huntsman takes the House Republican budget aka the Ryan plan, and goes several steps further:

    “Huntsman either hasn’t thought through — or doesn’t want people to know — what eliminating all tax expenditures would actually mean. So let’s take a look at the official tax expenditure list and see what would happen if we got rid of all of them:

    – All Social Security benefits would become taxable. Senior citizens that currently receive the average Social Security benefit as their primary income source (as is the case for most seniors) currently pay no income taxes on those benefits, but would under Huntsman’s plan.

    – Many middle-class parents would lose child tax credits and tax benefits for education and child care that are more valuable to them than a tax rate cut.

    – Huntsman’s tax plan would also eliminate the employer health insurance exclusion, which helps enable some 160 million Americans get coverage through their jobs.

    – One of the most successful pro-work, anti-poverty initiatives, the Earned Income Tax Credit, would be abolished.

    – Veterans pensions and disability benefits would become subject to tax, as would all military combat pay, military housing allowances and meals, workers compensation payments, public assistance benefits, and state foster care payments.

    This is just a partial list of the harsh and/or bizarre consequences that would occur if all tax expenditures were eliminated to fund a huge giveaway to the very rich.

    According to the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center, on the whole, middle-class families would be forced to pay $1,890 in higher taxes under the no-tax expenditure plan compared to what they pay now. The richest one percent, meanwhile, would get an average tax cut of more than $7,000, because they benefit the most from the lower rates. (The Tax Policy Center estimates are based on an even less extreme version of the Fiscal Commission’s zero tax expenditure scenario, one that retains the child credit and EITC and doesn’t tax imputed rent. And under that scenario, the capital gains and dividends received mostly by wealthy investors are taxed at the same rates as wages, whereas Huntsman would make them tax-free.)

    For the super-rich, the biggest bonanza comes from Huntsman’s pledge to eliminate all capital gains and dividend taxes — which would give the richest 1 percent an average tax cut of $75,000 and the richest 0.1 percent an average tax cut of $486,000.

    In light of all this, maybe people should stop calling Huntsman the “serious” Republican candidate.”

    Link: http://thinkprogress.org/economy/2011/08/31/309249/huntsman-taxes-rich/

    • LFC

      “And under that scenario, the capital gains and dividends received mostly by wealthy investors are taxed at the same rates as wages, whereas Huntsman would make them tax-free.”

      What a pity. I though Huntsman was a right of center competent. It looks like he’s running as an ever so slightly less than Tea Party right nutjob. The vast giveaway of zero capital gains tax while making the tax code changes revenue neutral, which makes people who pay income taxes have to now make up that loss, is a Republican love note to their wealthy backers if there ever was one.

      • Grace

        Is this Huntsman going “all in” on taking the uber-wealthy donor dollars from Romney and Perry? Or lining them up in advance for his 2016 run?

        I’ll have to look for Perry’s take on taxes but suspect I won’t find anything at this level of detail because he’ll be able to deal in TeaNut bromides to win the nomination, without putting any specifics to his “small government” rhetoric. So points to Huntsman for honesty, at least laying out how he plans to shaft the middle class and working poor, but I don’t think it will be enough for him to take the TeaNut darling crown from Perry given his apostasies on broader wingnut dogma.

        I would be interested to learn more about Romney and Perry tax plans if anyone has run across them.

        2012 seems to be shaping up to be not just an election, but a referendum on the form of society we have going forward. Huntsman clearly envisions a feudal society based on a tiny upper class of elites who control almost all of the wealth, a broader merchant class to serve them who earn a modest living wage, and a huge destitute underclass who will have to work for a subsistence existence and/or depend on charity for many of their basic needs. And this is from the ‘moderate’ GOP candidate!

  • valkayec

    In addition to the other comments, the BBA as currently written closely reflects California’s. Does anyone in this country want to see the entire nation become like California?

    • Pavonis

      In California’s defense, it has a thriving high-tech sector and the best public university system in the world. But short-sighted politicians will probably throw these advantages away.

  • Graychin

    Huntsman is sometimes labeled as the “moderate” in a field of radical Republican candidates. Isn’t it amazing what passes for moderation in the once Grand Old Party?

    Raising taxes on the middle class to pay for more tax cuts for the wealthy and for those who realize capital gains? Yes! That definitely sounds like a winning strategy!

    Huntsman – all in? What the heck – he only has 1% of the chips. What does he have to lose?