Let’s not let a domestic issue such as tax increases interfere…with our nation’s security.
That, in a nutshell, captures exactly how Republicans deal with the budget, and it explains almost all of the structural deficit. I have no idea whether they really believe it or if it's just the way they talk for political reasons, but it's as if there's just no recognition at all that revenues and expenditures have anything to do with each other. Which in and of itself is tough enough to defend -- but from a group of politicians who claim that "the deficit" is important, it's, well, breathtaking.
As I've argued several times, the way to square the circle is to assume that what they mean by "the deficit" has nothing whatsoever to do with, you know, the difference between federal government revenues and spending, and that in fact those two totals have nothing to do with each other. Read through Beutler's story; he gets Jon Kyl to admit that the spending cuts they support to pay for a payroll tax cut are simply spending cuts they support, regardless. Which is really what every budget argument I've heard Republicans give in the last few years boils down to: they have plenty of spending they're for and plenty they're against, and taxes they're against and more-or-less taxes they're for, but they just reject the idea of trade-offs designed to bring revenues and expenditures together. Even for someone such as McCain who presumably really cares a lot about military spending, it's as if he's entirely unaware that taxes have anything at all to do with how much spending is available.