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NRO’s eye on debt and deficits . . . by Kevin D. Williamson.

Election Aftermath: Getting It Wrong on Republicans and the Deficit



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The reliably clueless Cynthia Tucker of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution checks in with some feckless deficit punditry, writing:

So, if the GOP wins the House, as expected, what will happen to the deficit? Here’s my prediction: Two years from now, the deficit will be no smaller. It may even be larger. Why? Because Republicans won’t do much to rein in spending. And if they cut taxes, there won’t be enough revenue to fund the budget. It’s simple elementary school math.

Egad, where to start. How about here: “And if they cut taxes, there won’t be enough revenue to fund the budget.” There’s already too little revenue to fund the budget — that’s why we have a deficit, no? Consult a dictionary, for the love of God: Too little revenue to fund spending is pretty much the definition of deficit. You write for a living, right, Tucker?

Abuses of English aside, there’s plenty of substance trouble here, too: “Republicans won’t do much to rein in spending.” The real question, I think, is whether Republicans send President Obama legislation that reins in spending — legislation he almost certainly will veto, unless Senate Democrats can maneuver to keep it from reaching his desk in the first place. That’s what 2012 is going to be about. A GOP House majority will have a lot of power, but not power to unilaterally reduce the deficit.

Then comes the string of banal talking points:

Republicans, aided by the rightwing communications machine, have persuaded voters of a couple of things that happen to be wrong. One is that President Obama has substantially increased spending on wasteful government programs. In fact, one-third of the stimulus was in the form of tax cuts. And the bank bail-out, which started under George W. Bush, has mostly been paid back — earning taxpayers a profit. The health insurance law will reduce the deficit over ten years, not add to it, according to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office.

Tedious, but let us address them. 1. Right-wing communication machine? So long as NPR exists and receives taxpayer funding, no Democrat ought to be able to utter that stupid cliché without blushing. 2. Substantially increased spending on wasteful government programs: check.

3. “In fact, one-third of the stimulus was in the form of tax cuts.” Badly designed, ineffectual tax cuts. But you can’t excuse the stimulus shenanigans and their deficit effects by protesting that they were tax cuts and then write: “a huge tax cut for rich Americans will certainly make the deficit larger. That’s a fact.” Tax cuts add to the deficit no matter who receives them. And that’s a fact. 4. “And the bank bail-out, which started under George W. Bush, has mostly been paid back — earning taxpayers a profit.” Except for the parts most hotly lobbied for by Barack Obama and his colleagues: the mortgage-relief program, which is an enormous money-loser, the auto bailout, which is a money-loser, and the Fannie-Freddie shenanigans, the price tag of which recently has doubled. The Bush administration’s piece of the TARP seems to have worked reasonably well. The Obama administration’s bottomless line of credit at Treasury for Fannie and Freddie, less so. 5. “The health insurance law will reduce the deficit over ten years, not add to it, according to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office.” True, assuming that the steep taxes on high-dollar union health-care plans actually kick in (they won’t) and that doctors’ Medicare payments are reduced by a fifth or more (they won’t). Hint: When government promises to save you a few billion dollars by spending a trillion dollars, you aren’t going to save anything.

The deficit-reduction benefits of Obamacare may be the least honest talking point in American politics at the moment. Who thinks that we really are going to cut doctors’ payments by 21 percent or more? Who really thinks that the Obama administration is going to savage the health-care plans of its most important constituency after Goldman Sachs?

Question: Is the Atlanta Journal-Constitution bankrupt yet? Because they could copy and paste these illiterate partisan talking points off of DailyKos or Keith Olbermann’s web site for free every day. Save a few bucks.

– Kevin D. Williamson is deputy managing editor of National Review and author of The Politically Incorrect Guide to Socialism, to be published in January.


Tags: Debt , Deficits , Despair , General Shenanigans , Media Jackassery , Pundits


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