This post first appeared on Think Progress.
Today on NBC’s Meet the Press, House Republican leaders John Boehner (R-OH) and Mike Pence (R-IN) had a tough time answering host David Gregory’s questions about how they would pay for extending the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy.
Gregory asked Boehner to respond to former Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan, who said last week that extending the tax cuts without offsets would be “disastrous” and that they do not pay for themselves. “The only way we’re going to get our economy going again…is to get the economy moving,” was all Boehner could muster in response. Gregory repeatedly pushed Boehner to answer how they would paid for, but the Minority Leader simply wouldn’t respond:
GREGORY: You’re not being responsive to a specific point which is how can you be for cutting the deficit and also cutting taxes as well when they’re not paid for?
BOEHNER: Listen, you can’t raise taxes in the middle of a weak economy. […]
GREGORY: But tax cuts are not paid for is that correct?
BOEHNER: I am not for raising taxes on the American people in a soft economy.
GREGORY: That’s not the question. Are tax cuts paid for or not?
BOEHNER: Listen, what you’re trying to do is get into this Washington game and their funny accounting over there. …
GREGORY: Do you believe tax cuts pay for themselves or not?
BOEHNER: I do believe that we’ve got to get more money in the hands of small businesses.
Later in the program, Pence ran into the same trouble:
GREGORY: This tension that I got out with Leader Boehner. Republicans want more tax cuts seems to me he acknowledged that they’re not paid for and yet at the same time they want tax cuts but they’re so worried about the deficit. How do you resolve that tension?
PENCE: Well I think the way you resolve it is you focus on jobs. …
GREGORY: But congressman, you’re asking Americans to believe that Republicans will have spending discipline when you’re saying extend the tax cuts that aren’t paid for and cut the deficit, how is that a consistent credible message?
PENCE: Well I understand the credibility problem. …
GREGORY: You acknowledge, tax cuts being extended cannot be paid for, it would be borrowed money.
PENCE: Well no I don’t acknowledge that. … I think it’s apples to oranges.
The reality is that extending the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy will cost $830 billion over the next ten years and the Republicans — who have made bringing down the deficit one of their signature issues — have no idea how they will pay for them.
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