Sen. Mark Warner spoke at the Politico Hub in downtown Charlotte and moderator Mike Allen directed the discussion to fiscal issues. Warner was part of the Gang of Six and talked optimistically about the possibility of a bipartisan deal on entitlements, other spending and taxes.
He chided those Republicans who resist any increases in “revenues.” But he did not insist, as Barack Obama has, on higher taz rates on igh earners. There are ways to do tax reform, he said, including taking all exemptions (I would use the term preferences, others would say tax expenditures) and cutting or reducing them. He suggested several ways this could be done and pointed out that doing so would make the tax system more progressive. “You could actually lower taxes and still raise more money,” he said.
I’ve heard exactly the same point being made by Paul Ryan last week, by Sens. Rob Portman and Pat Toomey on the supercommittee and by Srn. Orrin Hatch, who will chair the Senate Finance Committee in a Republican-majority Senate, in an interview on the floor of thr Republican convention. Warner did say the chances for bipartisan reform would be much better with Barack Obama than Mitt Romney, because Obama has been working on the issue. But Obama’s Ahab-like insistence on higher rates seems to me a major obstacle to the kind of tax reform that Warner indicated is acceptable to him.