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Return of the Fiscal Conservatives

American Compass has released a new collection taking on directly the most sacred Republican cow: tax policy. In Return of the Fiscal Conservatives, the Compass team makes the case that anti-tax zealots have corrupted conservatism and undermined the cause of limited government. The fiscal crisis is here, and policymakers need to pursue deficit reduction that includes both substantial spending cuts and new revenue. 

While some politicians continue to take a hardline stance, new polling conducted in partnership with YouGov finds that the American people understand the tradeoffs and are willing to support the hard choices required. In fact, the median American would address the deficit with a combination of tax increases (40%) and spending cuts (60%). Even among “strong Republicans,” 72% would include tax increases in a deficit reduction plan.

In Washington too, the tide is starting to turn. For the first time, Republican leaders on Capitol Hill are acknowledging that the old playbook of relying on tax cuts to eliminate the deficit simply won’t work, including House Ways & Means Chair Jason SmithHouse Budget Committee Chair Jodey ArringtonHouse Appropriations Committee Chair Tom ColeHouse Freedom Caucus policy chair Chip Roy, and others.

The collection explores these issues and more:

  • In “Finding the Responsible Party,” Oren Cass makes the case that fiscal discipline was long the norm in the United States and it disappeared only when conservatives abandoned their post and accepted the idea that cutting taxes should always be the priority. He argues against extending the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act and proposes instead a process for returning to sanity that eschews grand bargains and blue-ribbon commissions in favor of narrow, concrete agreements that recommit both sides to the difficult choices the nation needs. 
  • The Budget Model lays out the various trade-offs required to eliminate the deficit, allowing users to make a range of changes to specific programs and map out their impacts over time. It shows how even aggressive cuts from the baseline barely brings spending down to 20% of GDP, and even aggressive tax increases barely bring revenue up to 20% of GDP.
  • The survey results, in “Americans Can Do a Budget Deal,” make clear that, while the parties may feel captured by a binary choice between cutting spending and increasing revenue, the American people grasp the gravity of the deficit—and they’re willing to support the difficult tradeoffs necessary to do something about it.
  • On the American Compass Podcast, executive director Oren Cass and policy director Chris Griswold discuss the new data and what it means for how Republicans should look at the budget and deficits moving forward.

Click here to read the full collection.

Read the Full Collection
Return of the Fiscal Conservatives

Charting the course back to fiscal sanity and limited government