Friday, March 27, 2009
Everyone is focused on the fact that the Republican counter-budget has no numbers in it, as if that were just funny. (which of course it is) But seriously, how could we have expected that the Republican plan would have credible numbers in it? Their numbers have never added up. The Republican leadership has announced that their plan is to drastically cut taxes and reduce the deficit at the same time. There is no possible way to do that unless you either slash federal discretionary spending to the point where you practically have to shut the government down, or you make massive cuts in Medicare and Medicaid. Does anybody expect that the Republican leaders are going to go on television and announce that their plan is to make huge cuts in Medicare and Medicaid? That would be political suicide.
No, the only thing they can do is recite the same old platitudes about cutting taxes, reducing the size of government, getting government regulation off our backs, etc. When they actually tried to implement that program, under both Reagan and Bush, they created unprecedented new deficits. They cannot reveal the consequences of that strategy now because that would reveal either deficits similar to what the Democrats are proposing, or unacceptable cuts in federal programs. And if their proposed deficits are not very different from what the Democrats are proposing, then they have no argument against the Democrats' budget. So they have to stand there like the emperor with no clothes, and ask people to believe that their fictitious budget actually exists.