Thursday, July 26, 2012

Of Course Romney Would Embrace Budget Deficits

Dana Millbank wasn't born yesterday, but I have to say that this question is remarkably naive: "[W]hich one will Romney choose: defense spending or tax cuts?"

The obvious answer is: neither. A President Romney, with a Republican Congress, would almost certainly choose very large deficits rather than cut defense spending or raise taxes. After all, that's been the policy of incoming Republican presidents beginning with Ronald Reagan, hasn't it been? Eat dessert now in the form of enormous tax cuts and spending on GOP priorities, and then remember the overriding importance of the deficit later on, preferably when the Democrats take over.

That's what Reagan did. That's what George W. Bush did. The only exception was George H.W. Bush, who was a real deficit-cutter. And he wound up repudiating it when conservatives revolted.

Now, Millbank is surely correct that if it ever gets down to it, Republicans care far more about tax cuts for rich folks than defense spending. And it's certainly true that Democrats are trying to force that choice on them, and that Republican complaints that the sequestration is some sort of insidious liberal plot sort of ignore why it was on the books in the first place -- although Republicans surely are correct that they didn't want the defense portion of sequestration.

Millbanks says that "If Romney wants to keep his vow not to cut Social Security and Medicare for those age 55 and older, he’d need to shut down all functions of the departments of Commerce, Education, Energy, Interior, Justice, Labor and Treasury as well as the National Institutes of Health." Well, that's the true effect of the promises Romney has made, and I think it's definitely fair game to point out the implications of what Romney and House Republicans say that they would do. But in reality, they're not going to shut down most of the government; they're going to blow up the deficit.


  1. But in reality, they're not going to shut down most of the government; they're going to blow up the deficit.

    I would expect the party of fiscal responsibility to do nothing less.

    What Planck said about physics is equally true about politics...

    "A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it."

    Eisenhower was the last Republican president to have a balanced budget. Anyone who actually remembers Ike is at least 60... But the GOP is still the party of fiscal probity.

  2. Of course they will. Because as you have brilliantly outlined about the "war on budgeting", to the GOP the "deficit" is not the difference between outlays and revenue. It's just outlays.* So if you cut taxes and increase defense spending, according to the GOP that increases revenues** and doesn't change outlays. If at the same time, you throw a bunch of poor (brown) people off Medicaid and SNAP, then presto lower deficit!

    * Outlays on defense and wars don't count of course.
    ** Supply side economics.

  3. I agree that Romney will run major deficits rather than enforce fiscal discipline, but I wonder how long the Republicans will be able to get away with it. There is a fair amount of the electorate that is talking about deficits now, in contrast to 3 years ago when it wasn't much of a topic. Maybe I'm too optimistic, but I don't think the issue will conveniently disappear just because the GOP is back in power. Strong partisan will ignore it, but everyone else? I don't think so. It's going to be hard to put that genie back in the bottle.

  4. Just FYI -- I deleted one commend from this thread (by an anon, probably not one of our regular anons). It's pretty rare when I do that, other than obvious spam, so I figured I'd mention it (the issue was incivility).

  5. And...I deleted a follow-up. The issue was an anon commenter using dehumanizing language against conservatives (and not even specific conservatives. I won't have it around here, end of story.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.

Who links to my website?