Republicans Don’t Care About the Deficit – They Care About Taxes
The entire Republican position about EVERYTHING is that taxes should be as low as possible — or lower. The whole debt ceiling fiasco makes it plain; if the Republicans were interested in reducing the deficit, they would have taken Obama’s offer that cut close to $4 trillion of projected deficit spending over the next decade, with spending cuts outweighing tax increases by about 2.5 to 1. But they wouldn’t – they would much prefer to cut $1.0 trillion dollars of spending with no tax increase. What conclusion can there be, except that Republicans are more concerned about keeping taxes low than they are about deficit reduction?
The Ryan plan, which is more serious than anything else Republicans have come up with, would cap revenue at 19%. But why? The justification is that revenue’s averaged less than that since WWII (including all of those years before Medicare and Medicaid existed), so we should be able to live within this number going forward.
Leaving aside the obvious critiques related to an aging population and rising medical costs, there’s a more basic question: since the debt and deficit are such an enormous problem, why on Earth should the start of this conversation be based on past revenues, when what got us here is the almost perpetual shortfall of revenues to fund spending? In the 40 years leading up to 2008, revenue averaged 18.2%, but spending averaged 20.6%.
If we’re concerned about closing the deficit (and maybe actually paying down some debt when the economy turns up, as Keynes taught was proper), isn’t it logical to assume that we’re never going to cut spending to 19% of GDP, since in the last 30 years spending has only been that low during the last three budget years of the Clinton administration, when a higher percentage of Americans were working than at any other time in history?
[As an aside, please do recall that during the glory days of Ronald Reagan, spending was never lower than 21.2% of GDP.]
If Republicans were really trying to eliminate or minimize the deficit, wouldn’t they be attempting to find a place between historical revenue numbers and historical spending numbers, which could then be the future target for both spending and revenue?
It’s just common sense.