Six of one, half dozen of the other!

Tuesday, March 8th, 2011 @ 2:39 pm | Clueless Conservatives

Such is the theology among “serious” people, but actual serious people pay attention to the facts:

Look: until 1980 or so the United States generally paid its way; the ratio of debt to GDP generally fell over time. Then starve-the-beast came to power, and fiscal realism went away. That’s the story; anyone who glosses over that, who makes it a plague-on-both-houses issue or, worse, makes it seem as if Obama is the villain, is in an essential way misleading his readers.

Bear in mind, too, that the signature initiatives of Republican presidents — the Reagan tax cut, the Bush tax cut, the Medicare drug benefit — have all been unfunded deficit-raisers; the signature initiatives of Democratic presidents — the Clinton tax hike, Obamacare — have all been deficit-reducing. (Yes, the stimulus — but that was intended to be temporary, and has in fact proved too temporary; and Bush I’s tax increase was an exception, but the GOP has made it clear that nothing like that will ever happen again.)

Democrats aren’t fiscal saints. But we have one party that has been generally responsible, and tries to pay for what it wants, and another party that consistently, deliberately, takes actions to increase deficits in the long term. Saying this may be shrill; but not saying it is being deceptive.

Always trying to be balanced ignores the fact that life is not balanced. For the past 30 years, GOP fiscal irresponsibility has steadily deteriorated the health of the country, leaving us in such dire straits that when it came time for a crisis (created by Republican deregulatory fever), we were unable to respond in a manner befitting the scope of the crisis. Yet more crises await, bigger than before, and we’re nearly paralyzed by fear of institutional deficit that keeps rising…and by GOP dogma that rules out half of the budgeting process, laying the necessary taxes.

Add to that a Republican Party in power that seems to be more concerned with busting unions, restricting birth control and fighting gay equality, and eventually one starts to wonder if Charlie Sheen isn’t the sane one, sucking up every ounce of joy in the world he can scrape together before it all goes to hell. Then again he’s no less of a threat to women than the GOP, so where does one find a hero who will party for all us sinners? I need the Jesus of Parties. I can’t do it, I’m a family man and my body is just too delicate any more to handle excess (a beer just gives me heartburn and makes me pee double the amount of liquid I take in). Who will distract us in our last minutes?

As Krugman points out, the GOP is so stupidly twisted that they’ll cut funding for things that save money. Yet they do it because politically they see the Democrats letting them get away with it. What are the Democrat ideas for saving money? Sure, the Affordable Care Act can do a lot to bend the cost curve down over time and rescue Medicare, but that’s mostly already done and good luck finding a Democrat to defend it anyway. Have you heard any of them proposing big defense cuts? Any Democrats saying, “Let’s cut defense in half. If we get invaded, we’ll apologize!” would immediately be “unserious.” Yet if the Pentagon did simply concentrate on securing America’s actual defenses and not on playing international chess, it would take far, far less money than we currently spend. We could cut the defense budget in half and China would still never catch up to us.

But this is the stuff reserved for obscure bloggers who don’t get how things really work to rant about. After all, when it comes to the military, everybody is a Keynesian. Republicans will instantly talk about how base closings and bankrupt weapons manufacturers will devastate the economy, which goes to show you what they think about socialism.

We’ve got problems, the Republicans are either standing in the way or making things worse, and as always the Democrats are shuffling around like timid mice looking to play “me too.” And just when you thought it seemed like an obvious win to get tougher on the deficit quicker than Republicans, Obama goes and lets them take the initiative. Yes, they’ll fall short and he may be able to follow up with a better and more popular plan, but I have a hard time believing he’d be able to supplant their desire to cut the minor programs that their base hates. We’re going to lose, and lose much bigger than we ever had to, and yet no matter how much the Democrats disgust me for caving, I must always direct the blame towards those actively doing the damage. It’s not even-handed, it’s not just two kinds of good people, it’s one party gripped by destructive madness, and they’ll perform any wound upon the country that will gain them power or satisfy their ideology.

-hw

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