The National  Memo Logo

Smart. Sharp. Funny. Fearless.

Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

DeficitAfter years of ranting about the deficit, Republicans celebrated the news that it had been cut by almost two-thirds by completely ignoring it and finding some other disingenuous talking point to rant about.

The reduction in America’s budget overruns comes largely from the ending of some of the Bush tax breaks for the rich and economic growth, which is why Republicans would rather ignore it. While the party that blew the huge Clinton budget surplus will continue to sound off against government spending when convenient, their deficit fixation has been proven false, again.

And by not calling out the GOP’s hypocrisy, Democrats have given away the best chance we’ve got to put the unemployed back to work… for no political gain.

Here are five ways you know that the GOP only says they care about the deficit when a Democrat is in the White House, so they can run it back up when they return to power.

Obamacare Repeal/Risk Corridors

Obamacare Jobs

Before Republicans decided they probably should just cave in on raising the debt ceiling again, they were planning to demand that President Obama repeal Obamacare’s risk corridors. Following the lead of Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) and columnist Charles Krauthammer, Republicans started calling this mechanism — which also exists in the Republican-backed Medicare Part D — the “Obamacare bailout.” Because bailouts — which took place primarily during the Republican-backed presidency of George W. Bush — are bad.

The only problem is that the Congressional Budget Office projects that this “bailout” will reduce the deficit by $8 billion.

This is actually a step up from the GOP’s repeal strategy, which would have increased the deficit by $109 billion over the next 10 years.

AFP Photo/David McNew

Skipping The Senate’s Immigration Bill

immigration tea party

If Republicans wanted to decrease the budget deficit by $139 billion over the next 10 years without increasing any taxes, they could simply pass the Senate’s immigration reform bill, which would also increase the workforce by 6 million over the same time. Even with the legislation’s bloated buildup of border security, the law would cut the deficit significantly in the first decade and far more thereafter as it raised wages.

But no.

Photo: Fibonacci Blue via Flickr

Weapons Programs The Military Doesn’t Want

JSF rollout

Four Ticonderoga-class guided missile cruisers, $5 billion; the C-27J cargo plane, $1.6 billion; the Abrahams A1 tank, $400 million; the East Coast Missile Defense Shield , $70 million; the A-10 Thunderbolt, $212 million.

What do all these defense systems have in common? They’re expensive, and the military doesn’t want them.

But Republicans are Keynesians when it comes to knowing spending on the military creates jobs in their districts — so they won’t cut them. Instead, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) is defending cuts to military pensions in his new budget deal instead of talking about killing the F-35, a plane whose $1 trillion price tag is higher than Australia’s entire gross domestic product.

Photo: DVIDSHUB via Flickr

Welfare For The Kochs

Koch brothers

For 800,000 families, the new farm bill includes cuts to their food stamp benefits. But for the Koch family, the news was not so dire.

The Nation‘s Lee Fang points out that “the final funding package contains a number of giveaways that benefit Koch Industries’ bottom line.” Among these are biomass subsidies for Koch-owned Georgia-Pacific, along with new exemptions from the Clean Water Act.

Last year, blogger Kenneth Thomas identified $16.5 million in subsidies that Koch Industries enjoys at taxpayer expense.

Screenshot via Al Jazeera

Refusing To End Any Tax Break For The Rich, Ever


The number-one way you know that Republicans do not care about the deficit or the debt is the fact that there isn’t one tax break for the rich or corporations that they’d close to help balance the budget. Paul Ryan’s draconian cuts would have gutted Medicare and Medicaid while actually lowering taxes on the rich. Mitt Romney said his tax plan wouldn’t cut taxes for the rich but refused to name what deductions he would get rid of to make his numbers work. Any “tax reform” the GOP talks about would close loopholes and lower rates in a way that’s deficit-neutral, meaning the rich would likely pay less.

Vast majorities of Republicans in the House and Senate have signed the Americans for Tax Reform pledge authored by Grover Norquist that vows they will never raise taxes, ever.

Progressives appreciate this intractability for one reason: It has prevented President Obama from agreeing to make cuts to earned benefits like Medicare and Social Security or safety net programs like Medicaid. If Republicans were willing to end any tax breaks, that deal would have already happened.

So — in the spirit of Bill Maher — here’s a new rule: If you’re a Republican who says you care about the deficit or the debt but can’t name one tax break for the rich you’d end, you must shut up until you come up with one.

Photo: Fibonacci Blue via Flickr


Start your day with National Memo Newsletter

Know first.

The opinions that matter. Delivered to your inbox every morning

Sen. Bernie Sanders, left, and President Joe Biden during 2020 presidential debate

I look at September 2019 as a month where I missed something. We began with a trip to New York to do Seth Meyers’s and Dr. Oz’s shows. Why would we go on The Dr. Oz Show? For the same reason we had gone on Joe Rogan’s podcast in August: We could reach a vast audience that wasn’t paying attention to the standard political media. On Dr. Oz, Bernie could talk about Medicare for All and his own physical fitness. While at the time we believed Bernie was uncommonly healthy for his age, he was still 78. Questions would be raised related to his age, and we needed to begin building up the case that he was completely healthy and fit. It turned out to be a spectacular interview, ending with the two of them playing basketball on a makeshift court in the studio. Bernie appeared to be on top of the world.

Yet in retrospect, I should have seen Bernie growing more fatigued. After New York, with the school year starting, we did a series of rallies at colleges and universities in Iowa; this was the kickoff of our campus organizing program in the state. We would then fly to Colorado for a large rally in Denver before heading to Boulder to prep for the third debate, to take place in Houston on September 12. In Iowa, Bernie’s voice was a little hoarse. After the rally in Denver, he had completely blown it out. He sounded terrible.

Keep reading... Show less

Rep. James Clyburn

When I interviewed House Majority Whip James Clyburn in 2014 about his memoir Blessed Experiences: Genuinely Southern, Proudly Black, the South Carolina Democrat was confident in America’s ability to find its way, no matter how extreme the political swings might appear at any given time.

“The country from its inception is like the pendulum on a clock,” the congressman told me. “It goes back and forward. It tops out to the right and starts back to the left — it tops out to the left and starts back to the right.” And remember, he said, it “spends twice as much time in the center.”

Keep reading... Show less
{{ }}