EJ Dionne on Republican fiscal policy
Hurricane Rita heads inexorably westward, threatening to add to the human and financial costs of Hurricane Katrina. And when it comes to taxes and spending, Washington acts as if nothing is happening.
True, a group of very conservative Republicans issued a list of program cuts on Wednesday under the imposing name "Operation Offset." The cuts that the Republican Study Committee proposed have won their sponsors praise for making "tough choices." Of course the sponsors won't actually have to live with these cuts, because Republican leaders dismissed most of the reductions, especially in congressional pet projects and the Medicare prescription drug benefit.
Pretty much nailed it. The GOP doesn't believe in budget discipline, never has, never will. According to their lollipopland interpretation of fiscal policy, less revenue combined with way more spending actually makes sense. And if circumstances come up that require a more fundamental focus? Why, no adjustments are necessary! Structural deficits are wonderful! All hail King George!
That bit of truth out of the way, *sigh*....here comes the statist Dem spin:
it's hard to give the fiscal conservatives too much credit, since they would cut $80 billion from Medicare and $50 billion from Medicaid over five years and suggest reductions in school lunches, rent subsidies for the poor and foreign aid, among other things. The idea seems to be that to help Katrina's poor and suffering victims, other poor and suffering people will have to sacrifice. (emphasis mine)
EJ's title for this column entry is "Fiscal policy: why 'stupid' fits", but that's not accurate. A "stupid" person knows not what they do, they are ignorant to the mechanics of the field they are addressing. For example, if someone were atempting to teach a chemistry class despite not knowing a single thing about chemistry, and the result was their students melting a hole in the floor, then one could say that that teacher was "stupid". However
, if that teacher knew just
enough about chemistry to be qualified to teach it, but insisted that the science follow rules of his own design rather than the ones it is naturally bound by, though there would be the same result that teacher is actually exhibiting a mild form of insanity -- expecting of reality what cannot happen.
In regards to the Dick Cheney quote used later in the column, Republicans know that deficits matter, they just choose to live in an alternate reality where they don't want
them to matter. EJ Dionne, on the other hand, assumes that there is no defensible reason to cut spending anywhere, and suggests raising taxes will solve everything. In that respect, he is like the chemist that knows jack squat about his chosen profession.
The problem with the popular democrat view on the budget -- besides the fact that the effect of such a move contradicts their talking points about the economy -- is that it's an attempt to plug a hole that it's too late to plug: there is already such a crater in the budget that even if one were to approach it non-ideologically it would STILL require across-the-board spending cuts to even make a dent. Yet, at the same time they say this, they clamor for even more spending, despite Bush the Second being the biggest spending president since LBJ
. The center position on this is not simply "raise taxes", no matter how much Democrats wish it to be.
After all this, the stage is more
than set for a fiscal-conservative revolt, either in 2006 or when the presidential election rolls around. Democrats would be wise to embrace it, rather than scare it off like they did last time.