One of the greatest regrets of several members of the generally sound Reagan administration was that in an effort to cut spending significantly, President Reagan went along with some tax hikes sought by Democrats in his first term in office.
It seemed like a good idea at the time: Supposedly there would be $3 worth of spending cuts for every $1 in tax increases.
But it didn't work out that way.
The tax increases were imposed, but the spending cuts failed to materialize. As Reagan later wrote, "The Democrats reneged on their pledge and we never got those cuts."
We are witnessing a similar bait and switch today.
A bipartisan "super committee" in Congress has until just before Thanksgiving to devise some kind of plan to reduce our nation's budget deficits by $1.2 trillion or so over the coming decade. If the committee members reach an agreement -- which is by no means assured -- the full Congress will vote on it.
The trouble is, Democrats are demanding tax increases as part of the plan. But while those tax increases would surely occur very soon, any supposed spending cuts in the plan would be parceled out over the coming decade, which means they might not occur at all. Cuts that today's Congress approves could readily be reversed by a future Congress -- while the tax increases were left firmly in place.
As Reagan painfully learned during his administration, the end result very likely would be still more spending -- and higher taxes to boot!
So it is entirely appropriate that 33 U.S. senators have signed a letter urging the super committee in Congress not to propose any plan that includes a net increase in taxes.
Republican Sens. Saxby Chambliss and Johnny Isakson of Georgia and Jeff Sessions and Richard Shelby of Alabama are among those who signed the letter, which also urged the committee to offer a proposal that would balance the budget within a decade and reform costly entitlement programs to make them solvent.
The senators' insistence on no net tax increase is commendable. And it is in stark contrast to those who think that the federal government should be spending even more taxed and borrowed dollars.