Sunday, September 26, 2010

Fake outrage over the deficit from the Pledge to America (and everyone else)

Dan Drezner and Megan McArdle notice that the Republican Party's Pledge to America repeats the same incoherent set of positions we've been getting from the Democratic and Republican sides for decades:

1. We can't raise taxes.

2. We can't cut military or entitlement spending.

3. We have to reduce the deficit.

As Drezner says: "Good luck with that."

McArdle has a good rebuke to Tea Partiers who claim to be passionately opposed to the high deficit:

That's sort of like saying, "I want to be a size 6 and run marathons. I just don't want to do the part where I stop eating and go running."
ADDED: This is the Paul Krugman column that Drezner mentions (and agrees with. Krugman says:
In essence, what [the House Republicans] say [in the Pledge to America] is, “Deficits are a terrible thing. Let’s make them much bigger.” The document repeatedly condemns federal debt — 16 times, by my count. But the main substantive policy proposal is to make the Bush tax cuts permanent, which independent estimates say would add about $3.7 trillion to the debt over the next decade — about $700 billion more than the Obama administration’s tax proposals.

True, the document talks about the need to cut spending. But as far as I can see, there’s only one specific cut proposed — canceling the rest of the Troubled Asset Relief Program, which Republicans claim (implausibly) would save $16 billion. That’s less than half of 1 percent of the budget cost of those tax cuts. As for the rest, everything must be cut, in ways not specified — “except for common-sense exceptions for seniors, veterans, and our troops.” In other words, Social Security, Medicare and the defense budget are off-limits.

So what’s left? Howard Gleckman of the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center has done the math. As he points out, the only way to balance the budget by 2020, while simultaneously (a) making the Bush tax cuts permanent and (b) protecting all the programs Republicans say they won’t cut, is to completely abolish the rest of the federal government: “No more national parks, no more Small Business Administration loans, no more export subsidies, no more N.I.H. No more Medicaid . . . No more highway construction. No more homeland security. Oh, and no more Congress.”


Meade said...

Obama's Democrats, who face punishment in upcoming November 2 congressional midterm elections from voters worried about the country's high deficit, argue their Republican Party rivals would cut spending on education.

That's sort of like saying, "I understand you want me to be a size 6 and run marathons. But cheeseburgers have a lot of good protein in them."

John Althouse Cohen said...

"I understand you want me to be a size 6 and run marathons. But cheeseburgers have a lot of good protein in them."

Yeah, both parties are doing that. Same thing with the Pledge saying they won't touch Social Security, Medicare, or the military. (Too bad those are the main opportunities to cut spending! Oh well!)