After 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
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
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.
Photo: Fibonacci Blue via Flickr
Weapons Programs The Military Doesn’t Want
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
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