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Despite receiving increased attention after becoming the new GOP presidential frontrunner, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich continued his blunder-filled forays into tax policy at the ABC News Iowa Republican primary debate last Saturday.
The most outstanding of the Gingrich tax policy foibles in the debate was a flat-out lie about his past support of a cap-and-trade system to deal with climate change.
Responding to Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann’s charge that he supported cap-and-trade, Gingrich replied “I oppose cap-and-trade” and went on to say that he helped “defeat it in the Senate.” In reality however, Gingrich has said in the past that he would “strongly support” cap-and-trade and has repeatedly backed similar efforts to reduce carbon emissions.
Gingrich’s attempt to hide his past position on this issue highlights how anti-tax absolutists have pushed the entire Republican presidential field away from any policy that could increase revenue, even if it would help prevent a climate crisis. Economists agree that a cap and trade system, which would raise revenue, has the same effect as a direct tax on carbon-producing activities. Of course, Gingrich has tried to rewrite history before, and has been called out by CTJ’s director Bob McIntyre.
Gingrich also went on the offensive against former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, criticizing Romney’s proposal to make capital gains tax-free only for taxpayers with income under $200,000 whereas Gingrich would make them tax-free for all taxpayers.
What Gingrich failed to mention is how he would offset the $1.3 trillion revenue loss that would result or that the wealthiest 1 percent of taxpayers alone would receive three-quarters of the benefits. A fairer and more sustainable tax policy would actually be to end the special low income tax rate for capital gains so that they are treated like any other form of income.
As the new GOP frontrunner, Gingrich will quickly learn that people are paying close attention to his tax policy pronouncements, and CTJ will provide the missing facts whenever needed.