The Super-Committee’s Ability to Raise Tax Revenue and Afghanistan Trends: Today’s Qs for O’s WH — 8/1/2011

Aug 1, 2011 1:20pm

TAPPER: House Republicans seem to be arguing that this super- committee is going to have a difficult time doing any tax reform, because it's been scored by the CBO and the Bush tax cuts are set to expire in January 2013.  Could you comment on that?

CARNEY:  Well, I've seen that, and I would simply say that the suggestion that it is impossible for the joint committee to raise tax revenue is simply not accurate.  It's false.  If the joint committee decides, for example, that part of a balanced deal should be to eliminate tax subsidies for oil and gas companies or corporate jets, or if they decide to limit the value of itemized deductions for high-income earners, as the president has called for, they can do that and they would raise revenues doing that.

Second, nothing in the legislation that's being considered by Congress specifies at all that the committee operate under any specific baseline.  Any suggestion otherwise is simply false.

TAPPER: But doesn't it — doesn't it apply to the budget act?  Isn't it a — the budget act –

CARNEY:  But the committee could act accordingly – according to whatever baseline it chooses.  It could act — for example, it could decide to use — operate under the baseline used by the fiscal

commission, that assumed the expiration of the Bush high-income tax cuts, or it could operate under a current policy baseline, which was what Speaker Boehner was relying on when he said he had agreed to $800 billion in revenue.  So it's simply — it's simply not accurate that this committee can't consider and act on revenue raisers.

TAPPER:  And that includes lowering rates, not just the provisions you talked about, but –

CARNEY:  Well, again, I mentioned the Bush tax cuts as part of that.  And let's also be clear that — one, that the president has made — whatever the result, if Congress does not act on tax reform — which, by the way, broadly speaking is supported by both parties, the desire for tax reform — so there is great incentive created in this committee to deal with tax reform because of the — remember, it will be a balanced committee between Republicans and Democrats, and they need to produce a product that will then be — have fast-track authority and be voted on by Congress.  It is certainly our expectation that that product will include revenue as well as other areas of finding deficit reduction.  If it fails either to produce something or if Congress fails to act on it, you can be sure that the president will honor his promise to veto any legislation that would extend the Bush high-income tax cuts beyond 2012, which would of course create nearly a trillion dollars in revenue raisers when that happens.

TAPPER: And in Afghanistan, the most recent months for which statistics are available, I think May and June, indicate that ISAF casualties are down 40 percent, and civilian — Afghan civilian casualties are up 50 percent.  Why is that?

CARNEY:  You know, I would refer you to the Department of Defense.  I haven't — I confess I haven't studied those numbers of late.  But obviously, you know, the situation is — continues to be a tough one at — and fighting continues to occur.  But we believe we've made significant progress in implementing the policy proposals that the president put forward and — but we are now in the process of implementing the drawdown, as he made clear in his address not long ago, and drawing down the surge forces, beginning now.

TAPPER:  Does it concern the administration, the president, that –

CARNEY:  Well, again, I haven't looked at those numbers, so I don't have a specific response related to those numbers.  But obviously we believe very strongly that we are in a position where we can begin to draw down those forces, and we are continuing to do so.

-Jake Tapper

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