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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority


If you needed any additional confirmation about how congressional Republicans will get around the massive contradiction between their deficit-hawk rhetoric and their tax-cuts-uber-alles ideology, it’s now very clear they’ll just deny it all by claiming tax cuts don’t increase the deficit.
That’s the only logical interpretation to make of the House Republicans’ new draft budget rule, which they are calling “cut/go” (as opposed to the longstanding if often ignored “paygo” rules). Here’s the simple bottom line from CQ (subscription-only, via Pat Garofalo of ThinkProgress):

The budgetary mechanism, which Republicans refer to as a “cut-go” rule, will mandate that lawmakers pay for any new spending program by eliminating an existing program of equal or greater value. It is similar to the pay-as-you-go rule previously introduced by House Democrats except that it does not allow spending increases to be offset with new taxes or fees. Also, tax cuts would not have to be offset with spending reductions.

Now there’s only two ways this approach does not amount to a blatant admission that deficits don’t matter at all, Tea Party rhetoric aside. The first, of course, is to adopt the amazingly threadbare, totally discredited supply-side theory whereby tax cuts pay for themselves. Garafolo quotes Mike Pence blithely embracing that chesnut.
The other approach, that of Orwellian redefinition of plain words, is nicely and appropriately presented by Michele Bachman:

I don’t think letting people keep their own money should be considered a deficit.

By this fine theory, if you abolished taxes altogether, the federal budget deficit would vanish.
Cut-go deserves as much mockery as can be mustered against it. It’s the most craven response possibe to the deficit fears Republicans have done so much to stimulate over the last two years, and they shouldn’t get away with cutting-and-running from the challenge.

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