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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Republicans Boost the Deficit: A Farce in Four Acts

When Republicans brushed aside a couple of years of demagoguery about the transcendent importance of debt and deficits to push for an extension of high-end tax cuts at the end of the 111th Congress, the act of hypocrisy was rationalized by the usual discredited supply-side nostrums about tax cuts for “job creators” paying for themselves through economic growth and higher federal revenues.
Then before the 112th Congress convened, House Republicans took this “logic” to the next stage, exempting all tax cuts from budget offset rules, on the theory that any measures letting Americans “keep more of their own money” couldn’t possibly represent a fiscal problem for the federal government.
Now the entire GOP is dismissing the warning from the Congressional Budget Office that repealing the Affordable Care Act of 2010 would boost deficits even more by scrapping the health care cost containment provisions of that legislation. Why? Because everyone knows a socialist takeover of the health care system will boost federal costs and kill jobs by imposing burdens on employers. Who needs a detailed explanation of that assertion, or a refutation of CBO’s careful accounting?
So tax cuts by definition can’t be on the table in deficit reduction efforts, and neither can spending increases that Republicans happen to want. Act 4 in this farce is right on the horizon, when congressional Republicans announce that defense spending is off the table as well.
Deficits only matter to the GOP, it’s clear, when they can be attributed to particular kinds of spending that they want to slash anyway. At some point, their talk about fiscal responsibility needs to be hooted off the stage as a bad comedy with tragic undertones.

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