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More on conservatives and deficits

Kevin Drum reminds us that a recent poll of self-identified tea partyers found that they preferred focusing on tax cuts rather than deficit reduction. The split was 49 percent for tax cuts and 42 percent for deficits.

By Ezra Klein  |  July 15, 2010; 11:14 AM ET
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I think ultimately the issue is that conservatives don't feel like they should have to pay for government that they don't like. There are, of course, liberals who don't like spending as much money as we do on the military. Republicans, however, seem to think that if they underfund the government enough that the things they don't like will drift away, leaving on the things they like. Of course, it doesn't work like that. If you don't like a social program then you need to actively try to end the program, even if it's popular. Simply hoping the things you don't like will go away through magic is, I think, pretty childish.

Posted by: MosBen | July 15, 2010 11:19 AM | Report abuse

Starve the Beast

It's working well in Europe.

Posted by: WrongfulDeath | July 15, 2010 11:21 AM | Report abuse

MosBen above has an interesting outlook.

Not only does one need to reduce the food given to The Federal Beast, one should taint the food it receives, thereby tainting the bilge it spews. In addition to tax cuts and program cuts, tax restructuring may be necessary to help make fiscally disastrous social programs less appealing.

I still favor a phase-down of the Johnson cancers (Medicaid, Welfare, and Medicare) and the Roosevelt cancer (Social Security). The phase-down would begin by requiring those born between 1980 and 1992 to pay into the programs at whatever rate necessary to sustain current benefits but without expectation of benefits for themselves. Those born between 1974 and 1979 would pay in, with benefits beginning at age 85. Those born before 1978 would see no change and those born after 1992 would never pay into the programs at all. This means that current voters have to both keep their promises AND pay the associated tab... as soon as younger folks start paying the bills, the popularity of the Johnson and Roosevelt cancers will disappear.

To help sell the idea, perhaps it could be called the "Affordable Stimulation Act," with its logo printed on freely distributed condoms, and paid placement of lots of charts and graphs showing how the Affordable Stimulation Act is fun and yields a recurring annual profit to the federal government.

Posted by: rmgregory | July 15, 2010 11:59 AM | Report abuse

rmgregory, my comment about it being "childish" aside (that's just a personal feeling), I don't think my comment is so far off from yours or WrongfulDeath's. The underlying philosophy in the Republican agenda, as far as I can tell, isn't to starve the beast to death, but to starve it down to some arbitrary size, a size which, it seems to me, includes all the things conservatives think the government should be doing and none of the things they think it shouldn't be doing. I've never seen someone argue that the beast should be so starved that it stops enforcing patents or maintaining the military, just that it should be starved so that it gives up on liberal social programs.

To me, and feel free to correct me if I'm wrong, this is exactly what I said. Conservatives don't like that the government does things they don't like it doing, so they want to underfund the government in the hopes that only those things they don't like paying for wilt away. Squeezing off funding for the government in hopes that the things you don't like will fall off leaving on the things you like, because evidently you can't get the votes to repeal them directly, strikes me as childish behavior.

If you want to eliminate the "cancers" you mention above, get the votes in the legislature to repeal them. If those votes don't exist because legislators think the voters in their districts/states want those programs to continue then it's irresponsible to throw the government into massive debt because you lost the policy debate. If I were looking for a label for that sort of behavior, I'd probably call it a trantrum.

Posted by: MosBen | July 15, 2010 12:40 PM | Report abuse

One more thing, I think every Republican in Congress who feels the way you do should put forward bills to that effect in every session of Congress. I wouldn't vote for that legislator if he represented me, but I'd sure as hell respect him.

Posted by: MosBen | July 15, 2010 12:42 PM | Report abuse

Has it ever crossed any reasonable Democrat or media mind that reason why Conservatives & Tea Party don't want to "focus on deficits" is because it might force scrutiny of 8yrs deficit-spending governance under "fiscally conservative" GOP*...:

Starting with the nice Clinton boost of $200Billion+ budget surplus, the fiscally incompetent Bush deficit-funded most of his policies. Just a few I can recall as of right now: Invasion of Iraq ($3trillion+), Bush TaxCuts which benefited richest 5% with 62% of the tax windfall ($4.4trillion** thru 2018), 2003 Medicare Rx Act which benefitted HMO's/providers with $130 Billion subsidies & screwed Medicare & the elderly & was setting Medicare up for privatization & death until Obamacare stopped it ($1.2trillion w/$7trillion added to Medicare Future Unfunded Liability), 2004 American Jobs Creation Act (benefitted GE with $8Billion & added $80Billion to Fed Deficit), 2005 Energy Policy Act which benefitted Oil/Energy companies with $85.1Billion, Free Trade/Corp Offshore & other tax breaks***/ Tax/CEO pay/Capital Gains/etc etc "loopholes" ($400Billion annually x 6/7yrs = $2.4trillion fed revenue loss for fed deficit, a little secret $140billion 9/30/08 xtra tax windfall gift to Wall St (actually fed revenue loss/deficit for Obama 08/09 budget - reported on WAPO) typing finger is too tired to continue even though could go on & on & on, but you get my point.

Plus "talking deficits" could lead to "talking US National Debt":
Jan 20 2001: $5.727 trillion
Jan 20 2009: $10.626 trillion
Jan 20 2010: $12.327 trillion ("See, the man increased the national debt by $1.9 trillion in JUST One Year", GOP Gov Chris Christie. Actually no, Sir, he didn't, in fact even RW Cato Institute wrote on 11/19.09; "Don't blame Obama for Bush's 2009 Deficit...Obama inherited" In reality, GOP/Bush added $6.6 trillion to National Debt & recorded a YE Budget Deficit for each of 8 yrs, culminating in 2009 & will be adding to fed deficit every year until 2019 (ongoing effect of Bush corp welfare/private tax/free trade policies on diminished fed revenues + financing of massive debt from 8yr administration).

So WHY on earth "talk dirty" & "focus on deficits"? Anyhow MSM & Cable TV NEVER like to talk dirty deficits,'cos I don't think they understand them & prefer to let spokespeople deliver new headline-grabbing fiscal scandal even if not true. Does anyone do research anymore? Much more fun to "talk tax cuts" and how much money paternalistic GOP want to save you.. especially if you earn over $250K & are one of 257,000 US Million/Billionaires!!!


Posted by: TruthFairy | July 15, 2010 2:02 PM | Report abuse

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