Over at Dana Pico’s blog I’ve noticed that when all arguments about why we must ONLY cut spending and not increase revenue are dismantled and packed into little boxes and shipped to the Bad Idea Depot, Dana and others fall back on an excuse that rests mostly on belligerence, suspicion, and megalomania. Let me explain.
The excuse is, roughly, “If Democrats succeed in raising taxes, they’ll just spend the money!”
Now, let’s look at the ways this is all the things I described it as and more. Perhaps most importantly, Dana and the Republicans don’t seem to realize something: They aren’t in complete control of the government. They have the House, not the Senate, and not the White House. Yet notice something funny about these debt ceiling “negotiations”? Yep, every Republican is dead set that there will be no tax increase. Sound like a compromise to you? Republicans get everything, Democrats get nothing (deficit doesn’t get fixed)? In Republicanland, that is exactly their definition of compromise. Any fair American must reject this approach.
Let’s look at the flipside: If we cut spending, Republicans will just cut taxes more and we’ll be in more deficit trouble. Is that true? Well, considering the Bush tax cuts are the biggest single contributor to our deficit problems today, and that they were enacted at a time when we were just starting to get ahead of our deficit problems, I’d say it’s a very real risk. In other words, since it just bloody happened and we’re still paying the price, I’d say the inverse of Dana’s statement is far more true.
Another point: Right now, there’s not much room for more spending. Our deficit has grown so large and we have such problems ahead keeping Medicare in the black that it’s unlikely we’ll see any new programs soon, and that’s a shame as one thing we could spend on would be more jobs programs, but Republicans are dead set against that. Dana doubts Democrat sincerity about wanting government to be solvent, but Dana also wanted Dick “Reagan proved deficits don’t matter” Cheney as president in 2008. The historical record suggests that Republicans tend to be most foolhardy when it comes to deficit spending, not Democrats. Democrats want government to be solvent and functional so that it can be robust and ready when problems arise. We could have been so much better prepared to handle the crash of 2008 had we not already been neck deep in Bush credit card spending. So the realistic order of events is we cut spending sensibly, raise revenue, pay down the debt, and then where there’s extra money and good use for it, we spend.
Finally, this is barring a concrete solution now over prejudicial insults. Whereas Democrats are trying to meet Republicans in the middle in a fiscally smart manner, Republicans are threatening to let the US default on its debts and bring on an economic Dark Ages that will make 2008 look like a boom. Yet Republicans have no ground on which to stand to claim to be more fiscally responsible than Democrats, and if one insists on being completely fair, both parties have sinned. It’s nice that Dana doesn’t trust Democrats, but why should anybody trust Republicans? It’s supposed to be a bipartisan negotiation, so bite the bullet, give the other guy some of what he wants, and get some of what you want.
Failure to do so will only underscore Republican irresponsibility, and the country will soon see that the price of the 2010 amnesiac vote returning Republicans to power has been to ensure at every step we will make things worse than they could have been. If Republicans can’t grow up, and do so quickly before the US gets downgraded further, they’ll prove what I’ve been saying along, that Republicans have played the part of arsonists jeering the Democrat firefighters for not putting out the fire, meanwhile they’re still running around spraying lighter fluid and calling it holy water.