the GOP Golden Age

Andrew Sullivan is on the political equivalent of the Road to Damascus. First he receives and analyses an email that boasts of the true reason why Deficits are Good

GW's real job, like Reagan before him, is to ensure that all the money is spent, that when a Dem takes office, 33 percent or more is paying off debt. This is called preemptive handcuffs. It isn't my idea. It is David Stockman's. No money to spend when Dems are in office. You are being childish. The only rationale for fiscal responsibility NOW is if you want there to be $ for Dems to spend later.

Give the guy points for candor. But the result of this repetitive, partisan strategy is surely an increasing level of government debt, which doesn't only restrict future spending, but restricts future tax cuts. I hate to bring up the national interest here, as opposed to cheap partisan advantage.

I find the notion that the GOP ever had the national interest at heart to be astonishingly innocent. I'd sooner believe that Sullivan is feigning amazement and is positioning himself for a party switch than I would that he is shocked, SHOCKED to find that teh GOP cares about power and nothing else.

He goes on to write:

I'm all in favor of tax cuts. I think Americans are over-taxed; I believe that individuals can make far smarter decisions about where the country's wealth should be spent than government usually does; I'm particularly persuaded that tax rates in particular should encourage work not redistribution. Where I differ from others is in their belief that deficits don't matter; that government debt is no problem; and that drastically increasing that debt just before the entitlement crunch hits is good politics or economics. I think we need to decrease spending while we decrease taxes. At the very least, I think we should hold a line on spending while we decrease taxes. What I cannot support is vastly increasing spending while you cut taxes. Call me crazy, but I regard this as a question of responsibility. We have a responsibility not to leave the next generation in a huge hole of our making. At this point, it's clear that the Republican party, at all levels, is simply fiscally irresponsible. This is true at the federal level, where Republicans have out-spent Democrats; and at a state level, as this USA Today synopsis spells out.
The Democrats aren't worse. They're actually better at controlling spending than today's Republicans. True fiscal conservatives might want to rethink their long-standing preference for Republicans.

Maybe Andrew has been secretly reading Dwight Meredith? I'd like to note that Sullivan has stated earlier that he's a fiscal conservative and a social liberal. This isn't irony, it's either obtuseness or disingenious positioning. Regardless, Sullivan hasn't let his own words stop his hypocrisy before. But these comments are certainly worth bookmarking as the GOP brings this nation to ruin.

UPDATE: Sullivan, with his newfound respect for the good of the Nation, might also want to consider Tapped's superb capsule summary of the GOP agenda:

First off, independent analyses put the true cost of the cut at $800 billion dollars or more. (The New York Times' David E. Rosenbaum rightly describes the $320 billion price tag as "artificial.") That blows a huge whole in the budget, as intended, and gets us further down the road toward bankrupting Medicare and Social Security, creating pressure to privatize both programs.

Second, tax cuts are good politics for the GOP. Cutting taxes has replaced fighting communists as the glue of the party. Everyone in the GOP can agree about tax cuts, which is why the White House plans to keep cutting taxes every year Bush is in office -- it keeps everyone rowing in the same direction instead of fighting about things over which they disagree. We could have spent the last few months discussing the hundreds of thousands of jobs this country is losing. We could have spent the last few months talking about health care. We could even have been talking about abortion. None of those issues are really good for the GOP. But instead, we've spent most of that time talking about tax cuts.

To what end? staying in power. This is the GOP Golden Age - the pre-eminence of political success. But at what cost? Krugman points to Japan as a cautionary tale:

The Bush administration is, of course, notably unconcerned about deficits. Aren't the tax cuts in the pipeline exactly what the economy needs? Alas, no. Despite their huge size � if you ignore the gimmicks, the latest round will cost at least $800 billion over the next decade � they pump relatively little money into the economy now, when it needs it. Moreover, the tax cuts flow mainly to the very, very affluent � the people least likely to spend their windfall.

Meanwhile, state and local governments, which are not allowed to run deficits � we have our own version of the stability pact � are slashing spending and raising taxes. And both the spending cuts and the tax increases will fall mainly on the most vulnerable, people who cannot make up the difference by drawing on existing savings. The result is that the economic downdraft from state cutbacks (only slightly alleviated by the paltry aid contained in the new tax bill) will almost certainly be stronger than any boost from federal tax cuts.

In short, those of us who worry about a Japanese-style quagmire find the global picture pretty scary. Policymakers are preoccupied with their usual agendas; outside the Fed, none of them seem to understand what may be at stake.

It's even larger than merely the economy's health at stake, however. American supremacy - military, social, economic - is built upon that foundation, which Bush is determined to undermine for political gain. If we do indeed get caught in a liquidity trap like Japan, this will affect our position as the sole superpower. It puts America's security at risk as well as its prosperity. The Krugman article is probably the single most important one to read today.

No comments: