So the debt ceiling drama is over (sort of) and SD’s mighty 3 all voted ‘yes.’ (We’ll discuss that soon.)
Meanwhile, South Dakota’s junior senator – who’s been all over the TV talking about this – maintained throughout that he could not support a deal that included any tax increases.
But in last week’s conference call with reporters, Sen. John Thune revealed that perhaps his position might not be as staunchly held as his rhetoric has indicated. The Murdo native discussed the apparent demise of his hard-won deal to salvage federal support for ethanol – a tougher deal to strike than the debt-ceiling deal, if you ask me.
When he said that his plan all along had been to attach the ethanol deal to the “tax title” in the final debt-ceiling bill, a light bulb shone brightly (if briefly) out here at the MDR’s West River bureau. Planning for a tax title meant planning for tax increases of some kind.
We had hoped to be able to hitch a ride on whatever the big debt package was going to be. We assumed there would be a tax title in that.
Now, had there been a tax title (ie, tax increases) in the debt-ceiling bill and had Thune’s ethanol deal been piggy-backed onto that, would he have turned around and voted ‘No’? Highly unlikely.
So does that mean, then, that Thune was prepared to vote for tax increases all along? Even though he was saying the opposite? It would seem so.
To be fair, Thune has clearly and often stated that he favors “tax reform,” the euphemism for at least closing a few loopholes. But he also said consistently that he would not vote for a debt-ceiling deal with any taxes in it. (He has said that tax reform should wait until the debt-ceiling drama had passed.)
Alas, there was no tax title in the debt-ceiling bill, so the world may never know how true Sen. Thune would have stayed to the GOP talking points.