Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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September 23, 2010

FOREGOING THE PRETENSE OF FISCAL RESTRAINT.... Republicans' selective, intermittent passion related to deficit reduction is a sight to behold. When the GOP was in the majority, they decided "deficits don't matter" and it was "standard practice" for Republicans "not to pay for things." The GOP, as a consequence, turned a big surplus into a massive deficit and added $5 trillion to the debt in eight years.

In 2009, they changed their minds. Deficit reduction, the GOP concluded, was paramount -- even taking precedence over economic growth and job creation.

But in 2010, with Republicans poised to possibly win back Congress, wouldn't you know it, the deficit, once again, doesn't really matter. In their "Pledge to America," House Republicans only use the word "deficit" four times in 21 pages, and three of four were criticisms of the Obama administration. The fourth was a vow: "[W]e will ... bring down the deficit."

No, actually, they won't.

Andrew Sullivan called the agenda "the most fiscally irresponsible document ever offered by the GOP" and "an act of vandalism against the fiscal balance" of the country. If you think that sounds hyperbolic, that probably means you haven't read the document.

As we talked about earlier, Republicans have decided to push for $4 trillion in tax cuts, which would increase the deficit; push for the repeal of health care reform, which would increase the deficit; and increase spending on missile defense, which would increase the deficit. But we can go even further and consider the fact that "the 21-page 'Pledge' omits any mention of a key Republican mantra: a ban on earmarks."

And what about entitlements?

Addressing a central criticism of the Republicans' new "Pledge to America," House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) on Thursday said he doesn't have the answer to solving Medicare's spending crisis.

To solve those problems, Boehner said, Congress will first have to initiate "an adult conversation" with voters, who will then decide what fixes to apply.

Here's a tip for the political world: never try to hold "an adult conversation" with dimwitted hacks who aren't ready to sit at the big kids' table.

Just to be clear, I'm not a deficit hawk. If Republicans want to blow it off and focus on economic growth, that's fine by me. But that's what makes their proposal such a sham: the GOP claims it will embrace fiscal restraint, then presents a plan to do the opposite, then urges the country to help them lead "an adult conversation."

There's something deeply wrong with anyone who falls for this farce.

Steve Benen 2:25 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (18)

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But we can go even further and consider the fact that "the 21-page 'Pledge' omits any mention of a key Republican mantra: a ban on earmarks."

No one agrees that Republicans are a pack of sniveling hypocrites more than I do, Steve, but if memory serves me right, earmarks -- as I believe you've pointed out -- have no impact on the deficit at all, as they simply allocate already-appropriated funds, and are a miniscule fraction of the Federal budget into the bargain.

Posted by: Gregory on September 23, 2010 at 2:29 PM | PERMALINK
Addressing a central criticism of the Republicans' new "Pledge to America," House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) on Thursday said he doesn't have the answer to solving Medicare's spending crisis.

**raises hand**

How's about we up the limit on the income to which Medicare (and Social Security) taxes apply from it's current $106,000 (IIRC) to, say, $500K or even a cool million?

Oh, that's right! Asking the rich to pay the same percentage as everyone else would be something only socialisfascistastic folks would do.

My fault ...

More seriously, there is no "Medicare/Social Security crisis!!! It can be solved with one simple, easy, and enormously popular change to the tax code.

That's it. That's all it would take. Yet these fuckers have decided that the rich are more equal than everyone else and shouldn't pay their fair share.

Idiots. All of them.

Posted by: Mark D on September 23, 2010 at 2:31 PM | PERMALINK

I love how Republicans only believe that rich people deserve entitlements.

"If you want to know what God thinks of money, just look at the people he gave it to."
— Dorothy Parker

Posted by: chrenson on September 23, 2010 at 2:36 PM | PERMALINK

All this is irrelevant -- the Rs know how to manipulate the media and the people. The Dems just cower in fear or talk amongst themselves.

Posted by: Dems can't play the game on September 23, 2010 at 2:37 PM | PERMALINK

How many times must we go over this. Voters don't give a damn about the deficit. Republican voters complain about it when Democrats are in power because that's what they're told to do. Other voters see the deficit as a symbol of a bad economy, so they say they hate it.
But deal with it? Pay more taxes? Get less in services such as the weapons which make us less frightened of brown people with scary names? MY Social Security? That's off the table.
So there's no downside to blowing a hole in the budget for Republicans. They know our system will pass on the inevitable day of reckoning to the weak and helpless.

Posted by: JMG on September 23, 2010 at 2:41 PM | PERMALINK

"the Rs know how to manipulate the media" - not too surprising since they OWN IT.

Posted by: T2 on September 23, 2010 at 2:41 PM | PERMALINK

Do Democrats have a plan?

We have one totally craven but organized party fighting to wrest control of congress from another spineless and totally disoganized party. It is hardly a fair fight. Who do we get to vote for Steve, just who do we get to vote for?

Posted by: Ron Byers on September 23, 2010 at 2:43 PM | PERMALINK

These Republicans aren't the only idiots. I wonder how many Dems have signed on to their pledge.

Posted by: whichwitch on September 23, 2010 at 2:44 PM | PERMALINK

One more time: Since the day Reagan took office the deficit was brought into play as a means of eventually dismantling all the social programs that are popular with most voters. "Look, folks, we're really sorry about Social Security and Medicare, and we're going to miss them every bit as much as you will. But just look at this deficit. It's horrible! We have to do something about that. You can see that, can't you?"

There's no hypocrisy here. There's a script. And our Republican friends are following it as faithfully today as they have been for the last thirty years.

To put it another way, for our conservative friends the deficit is a weapon, to be deployed as needed against ordinary citizens. Sometimes that means running it up with carefree abandon. And other times it means wringing their hands and calling for spending cuts.

Again, there is no inconsistency here.

Posted by: Roddy McCorley on September 23, 2010 at 2:44 PM | PERMALINK

this is what i love about the pledge against americans:

"The point we make, in this preamble to our pledge, is that we are not going to be any different than what we've been."

there ya go dems......straight from the horses ass.....run with it.

Posted by: just bill on September 23, 2010 at 2:46 PM | PERMALINK

When your troubles feel like your fixing to give in to the easy relaxing cliché , go for the more painful one .

I had a little book was given to me,
And every page spelled liberty.
All my trials lord, soon be over.

If religion were a thing that money could buy,
The rich would live and the poor would die.
All my trials lord, soon be over.

Too late my brothers, too late, but never mind.
All my trials lord, soon be over.

Posted by: FRP on September 23, 2010 at 2:58 PM | PERMALINK

"There's something deeply wrong with anyone who falls for this farce."

Steve, I ask this yet again like I sometimes do whenever you "innocently" wonder about how people can be taken by such transparent B.S.: Have you ever spent any amount of time around rank-and-file GOP voters? Seriously?

Posted by: bikelib on September 23, 2010 at 2:59 PM | PERMALINK

Steve, perhaps a better title for your post would be FORGOING THE PRETENSE THERE ARE TWO PARTIES

Posted by: reduced on September 23, 2010 at 3:04 PM | PERMALINK

When we have a Republican-compliant media who never questions each and every Republican in each and every interview or story about their hypocrisy, they get away with it.

And even when the rare interviewer asks about it, the Republican - just like happened during this past Sunday during a talking head show - gets away with saying that spending under BushCo was "too liberal", thus deflecting blame with a bonus of further tarnishing the word "liberal" in people's minds.

Outside of the internet and a very few professional pundits, they have us all by the balls in terms of information and truth.

Posted by: terraformer on September 23, 2010 at 3:04 PM | PERMALINK

Now that the congressional Dems have confirmed they have no political sense at all by avoiding a vote on the Bush 2011 tax hike before the election, I'm hoping that both parties can fail to reach an agreement and the Bush 2011 tax hike occurs on schedule. End the deficit with one big non-action.

Then we can push for progressive priorities with our diminished number of representatives.

Posted by: danimal on September 23, 2010 at 3:06 PM | PERMALINK

What is the deal with the Republicans and star wars. We've been spending billons since the days of Reagan with nearly nothing to show for it, and these clowns want to spend more. Kind of like the tween wars French politicians who thought building the Maginot line would make them safe.

Posted by: J. Frank Parnell on September 23, 2010 at 3:22 PM | PERMALINK

'A top House Republican told ABC News that the pledge is "an important milestone showing the American people we have learned our lesson and we are ready to govern." '
I don't believe they are ready for any such thing, but you see what they're saying? They're admitting that they didn't govern before. How can anyone take these guys seriously? It's quite a jarring statement.

Posted by: GC on September 23, 2010 at 4:42 PM | PERMALINK

Just for the record, it's "forgoing" not "foregoing." Just a petty little bugaboo of mine.

Posted by: kw on September 24, 2010 at 1:05 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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