the national interest

Why Republicans Keep Their Technical Tax Virginity

Paul Ryan and Patty Murray discuss revenue options. Photo: Universal Pictures

The secret sauce in the budget deal is that Republicans evaded their theological opposition to taxes by agreeing to jack up some “fees.” Matt Yglesias argues that this is a pointless charade — he compares it to technical virgins who engage in anal and oral sex. Actually, the GOP’s we’ll-raise-taxes-but-not-really stance makes perfect sense, in pretty much the same way that being a technical virgin does.

The key to the GOP’s anti-tax stance is that they don’t hate all taxes remotely equally — and many of them don’t hate certain taxes at all. They hate taxes on the rich. The trouble is “don’t tax the rich” makes a pretty unpopular way to define your core beliefs. So, Republicans instead couch their stance as no taxes, period. They could try to discretely negotiate for more regressive tax hikes, but that would leave them vulnerable to Democrats pushing to raise taxes higher up the income ladder, and would give the Republicans no solid basis to oppose them. Any negotiation over income taxes has the potential to get out of the GOP’s control.

Ryan’s solution was to accept tax increases “outside of the tax code.” That’s a perfectly safe way for Republicans to accept higher revenue in the form of fees and whatnot, without any danger of opening the door to higher progressive taxes. Likewise, technical virgins may be looking to get it on in a way that protects them from pregnancy. Yes, there is birth control, but birth control isn’t 100 percent effective. If you want to be certain your activities won’t get out of hand and result in pregnancy, being a technical virgin is a smart way to draw the line.

Why Republicans Keep Technical Tax Virginity