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Posted at 3:15 PM ET, 12/28/2010

Deficits, tax cuts and the GOP

By Ezra Klein

This is the sort of comment that I think gets one dismissed as a hopeless partisan, but is also unambiguously true:

Nobody, and I mean nobody, in a position of influence within the GOP cares about deficits when tax cuts for the affluent are on the line. Deficit hawkery is just a stick with which to beat down social programs.

That's Paul Krugman, and what's the argument that he's wrong? Or even that it applies to both parties?

Compare the GOP's approach to tax cuts with the Democratic Party's approach to health-care reform. Actually, you can even compare the GOP's approach to health-care reform with the Democratic Party's approach to health-care reform. Whatever you think of the Affordable Care Act, Democrats went to great pains to provide offsets, which is why Republicans could accuse them -- over and over again -- of cutting $500 billion from Medicare. When the GOP passed the Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit, they made no cuts and created no new taxes and simply put the whole thing on the deficit.

So help me out, dear readers: What's the evidence that the GOP ever allows deficits to come between them and the policies they want to pass?

By Ezra Klein  | December 28, 2010; 3:15 PM ET
 
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Comments

Somewhere deep in the bowels of the Tea Party movement, there are a handful of people who know this truth and have decided to push the GOP toward greater fiscal sanity. That's the most positive thing I can say about the Tea Party.

Posted by: willows1 | December 28, 2010 3:26 PM | Report abuse

Why was President Lyndon Johnson allowed to grossly underforecast the cost of Medicare in 1965 to avoid providing for these so called 'offsets'?

Posted by: krazen1211 | December 28, 2010 3:39 PM | Report abuse

Let's elaborate on the original Medicare law:


Federal general revenues finance 75 percent of the cost of providing Medicare Part B benefits. Premiums paid by recipients cover only 25 percent.

Read more: Taxes & Medicare Part B | eHow.com http://www.ehow.com/facts_7164748_taxes-medicare-part-b.html#ixzz19RPXAOmX


Only Medicare part A is funded by the payroll tax. Democrats and leftists didn't have a problem with part B for 40 years. And of course, part B is much much larger than part D.

http://www.kff.org/medicare/upload/7305_03.pdf

Posted by: krazen1211 | December 28, 2010 3:43 PM | Report abuse

For that matter, consider the issues of federal overreach and states' rights. They're all for states' rights, except when they are not. Health care? Too much federal overreach! Their solution, state deregulation and purchases across state lines, which eviscerates the capacity for states to regulate! Terri Schaivo (sp?)? Better get involved.

Or 'judicial activism', always bad, except when we agree. Or abuse of the filibuster and the power of the majority in Congress, always bad, unless Tom Delay is busy holding votes open all day, then it's okay.

Ezra, a whole mess of GOP positions become malleable when they are in charge. Democrats do this too, but we get called on it more effectively. That is something the GOP does well.

Posted by: rcd2 | December 28, 2010 3:46 PM | Report abuse

Fixed your quote: "Nobody, and I mean nobody, in a position of influence within [either party] cares about deficits when [programs or tax cuts they happen to care about] are on the line. Deficit [matters only in the sense that it could potentially threaten the program or tax cuts in question down the road]."

As I posted earlier, Dems had 60 votes. If you've got the votes, you make sure your program or cuts are 'paid for'. If you don't have the votes, you take what you can get now, and hope to win the battle over who pays for it down the road. Dems "went to great pains" to pay for the bill because that's the real fight; the one they needed 60 votes to win. Republicans don't oppose the health care aspect of it; they wrote the thing (as you've pointed out yourself).

Believe me, if Republicans get 60 Senate votes, they will 'pay for' their tax cuts with spending cuts. And will spend years after pointing to their record of fiscal discipline in that era.

Posted by: eggnogfool | December 28, 2010 3:56 PM | Report abuse

And how about the massive, unprecedented growth of Medicaid spending during the Obama Presidency?


The Medicaid program is jointly financed by the states and the federal government. Medicaid is an entitlement program and the federal spending levels are determined by the number of people participating in the program and services provided. Federal funding for Medicaid comes from general revenues. There is no Trust Fund for Medicaid as there is for Medicare Part A or Social Security. The federal government contributes between 50 percent and 83 percent of the payments for services provided under each state Medicaid program.


Oh, cuts, offsets, where art thou?

Posted by: krazen1211 | December 28, 2010 3:57 PM | Report abuse

At least the GOP's stance on the tax cuts is consistent, unlike the Dems.

The Dems plan of tax cuts for everyone under $250k, but not over, both adds to the deficit (200billion) and reduces growth (takes out $100billion of the economy with the tax increase of the wealthy).

On the flip side, the Republican plan adds to the deficit ($300b), but unlike the Dems plan, it isn't anti-growth (leaves $100b in the economy).

The reason why Krugman is wrong, is because both parties are retarded.

Posted by: marteen | December 28, 2010 4:00 PM | Report abuse

eggnog's "correction" is inaccurate.

That edit attempts to paint both parties as equal contributors to our nation's debt.

In fact, at least until the recent tax deal, Democrats have attempted to pay for almost everything they've ever enacted.

Just because the GOP then steps in and destroys the nation's ability to receive tax revenues does not mean the Democrats are equally guilty.

The last three Republican presidents fought for and enacted budgets that they knew would create large amounts of debt: 82% of the total debt to be precise (as of Jan 2009).

Democrats are not perfect. But they are not equally guilty as Republicans in this matter.

George W. Bush created $5.9 trillion in new dent in his eight years and MOST (4/5s perhaps) of the current deficit is due to policies in place as of Jan 2009. And the remaining 1/5 of the current deficit is due almost entirely to new policies to fight a recession George W. Bush most certainly helped create and/or fuel.

If there is an argument that Republicans ever cared about deficits, it would have to be that BushSr or even Reagan cared, because both men raised taxes. But ever since BushSr's "Wouldn't be prudent" utterings, the GOP has been AWOL on revenue generation.

Posted by: lauren2010 | December 28, 2010 4:08 PM | Report abuse

@Krazen:

Your first link contradicts your point.

Though it appears that link is inaccurate, and your point is correct.

Posted by: eggnogfool | December 28, 2010 4:13 PM | Report abuse

@lauren2010

I think you are giving Presidents/Congress way too much credit for the economy.

Posted by: marteen | December 28, 2010 4:28 PM | Report abuse

@ Lauren:

I didn't paint them as equally responsible, I said they feel the same way about the deficit. Though if I'm Krazy Krazen over there, can't I claim that the 10+ trillion we've spent on unfunded Medicare B and debt appreciation due to Medicare B account for more than 100% of the national debt?

What exactly did Dems pay for? Did they pay for the department of energy? Department of Education? Clinton's EITC expansion? I don't know, maybe they did. Just asking for examples besides the one time Dems had 60 votes and could stick it to Mr. Top Hat.

Posted by: eggnogfool | December 28, 2010 4:35 PM | Report abuse

"I didn't paint them as equally responsible"

IMO you did.

"I said they feel the same way about the deficit."

Well, then you'd be wrong. Many Dems do care about deficits. There is no evidence many Repubs do. Raising taxes is never popular but Dems do it because the other party is irresponsible on taxes. Dems dont raise taxes simply because it is fun.

"Though if I'm Krazy Krazen over there, can't I claim that the 10+ trillion we've spent on unfunded Medicare B and debt appreciation due to Medicare B account for more than 100% of the national debt?"

Anyone saying that would refuse to understand that the last three presidents created 82% of all the debt and BushJr created over $5 trillion in debt alone, and it obviously wasn't all due to medicare.

"What exactly did Dems pay for?"

Well, if you believe the rantings of any liberal hater, the Dems have paid for almost everything. Since only tax revenues pay for anything, and only the Dems are responsible for all these crazy taxes. Name one Republican who would claim credit for any tax increase.

Obamacare is a recent example of how Dems raised taxes, or cut medicare, or reallocatted funds so that it is deficit neutral.

Ever hear of paygo? Did you read Ezra's recent blog about paygo?

There are many other examples where Dems have attempted to make programs deficit neutral. I believe schip is another.

Clinton's 94 tax increases went to great lengths to pay for the various agencies you enumerated. Those same taxes and other efforts by Clinton/Gore helped spur the greatest venture capital era in history, which in turn helped create 10s millions jobs, which in turn helped local and fed gvmt to pay for many things.

Posted by: lauren2010 | December 28, 2010 4:58 PM | Report abuse

"Clinton's 94 tax increases went to great lengths to pay for the various agencies you enumerated. Those same taxes and other efforts by Clinton/Gore helped spur the greatest venture capital era in history, which in turn helped create 10s millions jobs, which in turn helped local and fed gvmt to pay for many things."

Man, you're high. First of all, who had control of both Houses during that time? Second, what tax breaks and efforts help create this tech bubble? What's next, are we going to thank George Bush for creating Facebook?

Posted by: marteen | December 28, 2010 5:09 PM | Report abuse

@Lauren:

You can operate with a "what happened under your watch" perspective,

or you can operate with a "effects of legislation that passed under your watch" perspective.

But you can't switch perspectives when it suits your party. If recent Republicans were bad because of debt that accumulated under their watch, then Obama has to be judged by that same standard.

If recent republicans were bad because of unpaid for legislation they passed, then democrats should be judged by that standard.

Clinton '93 (EITC expansion was paid for, btw) was another example of 'stick it to Mr. Top Hat while you've got the votes' (51-50 and 218-217, but hey, a win's a win).

Though to be fair, perhaps Republicans could have enacted big spending cuts when they passed their tax cuts through reconciliation in '01 (is that true? or was only the tax system available for reform under the reconciliation language?), so edge Dems?

Posted by: eggnogfool | December 28, 2010 5:25 PM | Report abuse

Eggnog

Your response is too general to dismiss the specifics I mention.

When you are able to provide similar lists of actions by the GOP then we can talk.

As for Martin, the 94 tax raises and the Internet boom had significant more to do with job creation than GOP paltry efforts to rewrite clintons budgets. Indeed the GOP failed to significantly rewrite those budgets.

The hi tech revolution created the jobs, not the GOP. And Clinton gore worked hard to make hi tech CEOs and startups happy.

Posted by: lauren2010 | December 28, 2010 5:43 PM | Report abuse

Eggnog

Btw, little peeved you pretend I am not aware of the concepts in your first two sentences.

My examples show there is a difference.

Posted by: lauren2010 | December 28, 2010 5:46 PM | Report abuse

Deficit Hawkery is just a stick Democrats use to beat Republicans to justify tax increases. If Democrats cared about the deficit, then why create a new entitlement program in the depths of a recession (Obamacare) that will suck up revenue that could have gone toward reducing the deficit?

It's the Democrats' welfare state. They own it. Republicans don't want to be its bill collectors so why should they want to raise taxes to pay for it?

Running deficits means that a larger percentage of revenues in the future will be devoted to paying for net interest on the debt--crowding out welfare program spending. That's a problem Democrats worry about, not Republicans.

Government shutdown? That's a problem for Democrats, not Republicans. You can bet that interest, Medicare, Social Security, military, FBI, Courts, and health and safety functions of the government would continue to be funded during a shutdown while the alphabet soup of Departments created by FDR and his successors will go wanting.

If I'm a Republican, I'm lovin' it. If I'm a parasite recipient of government funding or an SEIU member, and other important segments of the Democrat coalition, then I'm worried.

And Ezra, Medicare Part D was a compassionate Conservative, Rove-Bush new majority fantasy screw-up. No real conservative Republican is proud of his vote that day when De Lay pulled his shennanigans on the House floor to get a majority.

The Democrats own the deficit. They created all the major entitlement pograms that have caused fiscal headaches and will get worse over time. In the states where they hold large majorities (NY, NJ, IL, CA), on average, they do far worse the states run by Republicans. You attempt to portray Democrats as the responsible fiscal party is lacking.

Posted by: ElGipper | December 28, 2010 5:54 PM | Report abuse

Deficit Hawkery is just a stick Democrats use to beat Republicans to justify tax increases. If Democrats cared about the deficit, then why create a new entitlement program in the depths of a recession (Obamacare) that will suck up revenue that could have gone toward reducing the deficit?

It's the Democrats' welfare state. They own it. Republicans don't want to be its bill collectors so why should they want to raise taxes to pay for it?

Running deficits means that a larger percentage of revenues in the future will be devoted to paying for net interest on the debt--crowding out welfare program spending. That's a problem Democrats worry about, not Republicans.

Government shutdown? That's a problem for Democrats, not Republicans. You can bet that interest, Medicare, Social Security, military, FBI, Courts, and health and safety functions of the government would continue to be funded during a shutdown while the alphabet soup of Departments created by FDR and his successors will go wanting.

If I'm a Republican, I'm lovin' it. If I'm a parasite recipient of government funding or an SEIU member, and other important segments of the Democrat coalition, then I'm worried.

And Ezra, Medicare Part D was a compassionate Conservative, Rove-Bush new majority fantasy screw-up. No real conservative Republican is proud of his vote that day when De Lay pulled his shennanigans on the House floor to get a majority.

The Democrats own the deficit. They created all the major entitlement pograms that have caused fiscal headaches and will get worse over time. In the states where they hold large majorities (NY, NJ, IL, CA), on average, they do far worse the states run by Republicans. You attempt to portray Democrats as the responsible fiscal party is lacking.

Posted by: ElGipper | December 28, 2010 5:58 PM | Report abuse

It really is amazing when you think about it. The Republican party has demonstrated remarkable fiscal profligacy over the past decade: from the tax cuts to Afghanistan to Iraq to the $500 billion Medicare Drug Bill, they never did the hard work of either cutting spending or raising revenues. They just put it on the credit card.

Democrats, on the other hand, have a huge record of responsibility to fall back on. The stimulus spending was deficit spending, but that's not by accident, and all that spending is short-term. Their long-term, permanent legislation is all deficit neutral or deficit reducing.

Republicans love to try and give Newt Gingrich credit for Clinton's achievements in deficit reduction, but it's worth noting that every Republican in Congress voted against the 1993 deficit reduction act. Oh, and the decreases in spending in the 1994 budget happened _before_ the election, but Newt should get credit for those, too.

I don't understand how a sentient being could give Republicans credit for Clinton's deficit reduction, when literally 6 months after he left office, these same Republicans voted to jack up the deficit with the Bush tax cuts. While Democrats argued the surplus should be used to pay down the debt (or put in a lockbox for social security), the Republicans argued the surplus was a PROBLEM, and it meant we needed tax cuts.

I'm just amazed at the outright bias from the media on this. There is literally NO history of Republicans giving a crap about the deficit--it is simply a cudgel they use to beat up on spending they don't like, and to justify tax cuts, tax expenditures, and loopholes for constituencies they DO like.

I'm genuinely puzzled as to why the Democrats keep suffering so much in order to be fiscally responsible. I respect their sense of civic duty, but really, it's mystifying to me why they continue to make their lives so much harder by doing the right thing when not only do they fail to get credit for it, but in fact, the press gives fawning credit to the people who do the exact opposite.

Posted by: theorajones1 | December 28, 2010 6:14 PM | Report abuse

So far it seems like the best example anyone can come up with of Democrats ignoring deficits was their failure to anticipate with the creation of Medicare that retiree health care costs would decades later create a huge budget hole.

Now, unfunded Medicare liabilities are pretty central to our current budget problems ... but most of that was created decades ago (although GWB's Part D creation is the other big part of that). In modern history, haven't Dems been the party of Paygo and Repubs been the party of pretending tax cuts pay for themselves and deficits don't matter?

I know it is tempting to draw equivalences between the parties relative levels of budgetary responsibility, but how on Earth can that be justified?

Posted by: sanjait | December 28, 2010 6:45 PM | Report abuse

"You can bet that interest, Medicare, Social Security, military, FBI, Courts, and health and safety functions of the government would continue to be funded during a shutdown while the alphabet soup of Departments created by FDR and his successors will go wanting...The Democrats own the deficit. They created all the major entitlement pograms that have caused fiscal headaches and will get worse over time."

Okay, you're aware that "major entitlement programs" doesn't technically mean "programs that help people who aren't me," but it actually means stuff like Medicare and Social Security? The things you seem to feel Republicans somehow deserve credit for, and which they should apparently protect while teaching us all a very important lesson about useless and stinky the programs created by Democrats are?

And, uh, did you realize that the things you rather vaguely listed appear to amount to about 90 or 95% of government spending. Congratulations for so boldly teaching us all a lesson on how useless the federal government is by only being able to bring yourself to shut down a tiny percentage of it.

Although I really don't understand how you chose the areas for shutdown that you did. I fail to understand how disbanding FDR's alphabet soup agencies like the FCC is a long-term smart move. I guess I will grow to enjoy having every single electronic device in my life basically short out every other one. This will be especially awesome in hospitals, as we learn we can't put certain heart bypass machines in the same room as certain ventilators. Yep, trial and error will be super-entertaining, especially in the premature babies' intensive care unit! They are SO CUTE when they turn blue!

But, I digress. To sum up, the deficit which the Democrats have spent the better part of 20 years eliminating and the Republicans have spent the better part of 20 years increasing is actually owned by the Democrats. And government is horrible and should be shut down, except the 90-95% of it which you like. And programs which Republicans opposed are now ones they deserve credit for, but blame for their cost should go solely to the Democrats. Because, I guess, they'd be here AND they'd be magically free if the Republicans had their way. While you're on this path, you should promise everyone a unicorn. People LOVE unicorns.

Posted by: theorajones1 | December 28, 2010 6:50 PM | Report abuse

I think Lauren is correct in noting that Eggnog's two "perspectives" rule is too general. It certainly isn't fair to judge presidents just by what the deficit does under their watch, because it is influenced by factors outside of their control. But you do have to look at the interplay of what they chose to do and the effect it had.

So Reagan gets a pass for deficits in 81-83, just as Obama should now. But Reagan doesn't get a pass for deficits in his second term, well into a recovery. GWB produced a pretty similar record, except with a less deep recession to start his presidency and a more overt disregard for budget deficits. Both presidents though had an entire economic cycle to work with though. (we'll see around 2014-2016 how Obama does on this front when he demolishes Sarah Palin in the 2012 election ;))

Clinton probably doesn't deserve much credit for the internet boom, but with the interest rate environment at the time, deficit reduction including tax increases were actually pro-growth. And let's not revise history here, it was the Democrats who passed the deficit reduction measures, even at a huge political costs, while Republicans in Congress claimed quite erroneously that they would wreck the economy.

There there is the example of George HW Bush, who signed a deficit-reducing tax increase and had his own party openly rebel.

So which party is serious about deficits again? Is this even debatable?

Posted by: sanjait | December 28, 2010 7:19 PM | Report abuse

ElGipper, the "welfare state" belongs to all of us Americans, not just Democrats. I know the tea party types like to tell others what a "real" Republican is supposed to believe, but the actual real Republicans we have in Congress almost universally disagree with you.

How many of them actually support any real reduction or elimination of all the major federal entitlements Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security? I hear a lot of talk about entitlement reduction, but not one single one who is willing to say "let's eliminate social security!" out loud. I see very few even willing to sign onto specific reductions in entitlements, like Paul Ryan's plan to turn Medicare into voucher system. Where are your so-called "real" Republicans?

The fact is, the American people like those programs, and the people who want to enjoy the freedom of seeing sick people go without health care and grandma's eating cat food are a small minority of the electorate. So the question isn't whether or not we will have a welfare state, it is whether or not we will pay for these extremely popular entitlements in the present, or pretend that tax cuts pay for themselves in the long run and thus defer liabilities into the future. Thats the choice offered to you between real-life Democrats and Republicans.

Posted by: sanjait | December 28, 2010 7:26 PM | Report abuse

I'd like to point out that no one successfully answered Ezra's question. Republicans don't care about deficits. QED.

Posted by: CarlosXL | December 28, 2010 7:55 PM | Report abuse

"So far it seems like the best example anyone can come up with of Democrats ignoring deficits was their failure to anticipate with the creation of Medicare that retiree health care costs would decades later create a huge budget hole.

Now, unfunded Medicare liabilities are pretty central to our current budget problems ... but most of that was created decades ago (although GWB's Part D creation is the other big part of that). In modern history, haven't Dems been the party of Paygo and Repubs been the party of pretending tax cuts pay for themselves and deficits don't matter?

I know it is tempting to draw equivalences between the parties relative levels of budgetary responsibility, but how on Earth can that be justified?"


Well, you are right in a way. Federal spending on Medicare during the fiscal year Kaiser graphed was $240 billion for part A, $200 billion for part B, and $60 billion for part D. So the former 2 are about 7 times bigger than the latter.

In FY2008 alone, which was the last year of George W. Bush's Presidency, the Democrats Medicaid program added $208 billion to the national debt. Medicare Part B added ~$150 billion to the national debt.

That's a whopping $350 billion enacted as a result of Ted Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson's legislation of 1965.

Posted by: krazen1211 | December 28, 2010 8:10 PM | Report abuse

"It really is amazing when you think about it. The Republican party has demonstrated remarkable fiscal profligacy over the past decade: from the tax cuts to Afghanistan to Iraq to the $500 billion Medicare Drug Bill, they never did the hard work of either cutting spending or raising revenues. They just put it on the credit card."

And of course this is pure dishonesty, as we have seen over the last 2 years.

Barack Obama has engaged in continuous hiking of unemployment benefits and even more money tacked onto Lyndon Johnson's credit card courtesy of 1965. Medicaid spending, which was never funded to begin with, has increased by almost 50% during the Obama Presidency.

Posted by: krazen1211 | December 28, 2010 8:13 PM | Report abuse

"I didn't paint them as equally responsible, I said they feel the same way about the deficit. Though if I'm Krazy Krazen over there, can't I claim that the 10+ trillion we've spent on unfunded Medicare B and debt appreciation due to Medicare B account for more than 100% of the national debt?"


Sadly I'm not Krazy. We already knew this to be the case.

When these people trumped up the great society, they forecast that their programs would add only $12 billion in new spending in FY1990. Instead it added 10 times that amount to the national credit card.

In fact everyone knows that Team Obama is lying to our face just like Team Johnson did in 1965. But for some reason, the leftists here like to ignore the fact that 1965 legislation has accumulated trillions of dollars in spending over the last 45 years.

Posted by: krazen1211 | December 28, 2010 8:19 PM | Report abuse

Tom Coburn

Posted by: marc12 | December 28, 2010 9:14 PM | Report abuse

Believe me, if Republicans get 60 Senate votes, they will 'pay for' their tax cuts with spending cuts. And will spend years after pointing to their record of fiscal discipline in that era.

Posted by: eggnogfool
-----------------------------------

RIIIIIGHT, just like they did during the 8 years Bush was in office, six of which had GOP controlled senate AND house...

@Krazen, I love it! You never address the actual point of the article (What's the evidence that the GOP ever allows deficits to come between them and the policies they want to pass?), you just cry "What about LBJ and the libtards!?" Brilliant arguement! BRILLIANT!!!! Would you consider being my attorney? I can see it now... "Your honor, I know my client is on video surveillance robbing the convenience store, but DID YOU NOTICE THAT GUY SHOPLIFTING A CANDYBAR!?!?"

Posted by: Terrorfied | December 29, 2010 1:05 AM | Report abuse

@Krazen

And you know, after reading some of your other comments... Why don't you just come out and say that you want to kill medicare? Grow a pair and tell us all how you want to pull the plug on grandma.

Posted by: Terrorfied | December 29, 2010 1:11 AM | Report abuse


The first new rule says you HAVE to have insurance. Both my husband and I have pre-existing conditions, and although the new bill says we can't be denied coverage because of it. So far, the cheapest health insurance we've been able to find is called "Wise Health Insurance" search for it online if you are pre-existing conditions.

Posted by: josephpatel | December 29, 2010 1:11 AM | Report abuse

Krazen, you do understand we are in a really big recession, right? You keep pointing to this huge increase in Medicaid and unemployment bennies, but increasing Medicaid and unemployment is SOP for an economic downturn, and this is the biggest one since the Great Depression.

The clear reason we shouldn't be overly concerned about the long-term budgetary impact of those increases is that they are temporary, as another commenter already pointed out to you. Just like in every past recession, spending on these nearly automatic stabilizers goes up when the economy tanks, then down when it recovers. So the budget impact is much smaller than even relatively moderate-sized new spending programs or tax cuts that are permanent and don't have corresponding offsets. The only increase in Medicaid we've seen (with PPACA) under Obama was PAID FOR (ironically, mostly through cuts to Medicare...).

And it's still notable the best example of Democrat budget malfeasance is from 45 years ago, when they failed to anticipate or account for high health care cost inflation decades later.


Marc ... Tom Coburn does deserve credit for at least sometimes being for specific spending reductions, and not just for easy and politically expedient tax cuts. So where is the line of Republicans out there supporting him?

Posted by: sanjait | December 29, 2010 1:51 AM | Report abuse

This point about Medicaid has little to do with Obama and the current democrats. Because it provides medical services for the poor and recessions create poor people, Medicaid spends a lot more money in a recession. Economists call this type of program an "automatic stabilizer". If you're going to blame someone you need to blame the people who created Medicaid 50 years ago. Obama has shifted some of the state Medicaid spending onto the federal budget to alleviate some of the state budget problems. But this hasnt increased total Medicaid spending over what it would have been, just shifted it around. It's true that ppaca will increase Medicaid but that doesn't take effect till 2014 and it was offset, so it can't be responsible for the current growth and it is beside the point when it comes to the deficit. Don't believe medicaid is an automatic stabilizer? Look at a graph of Medicaid spending over time, the increase was even bigger during the 2001 recession, when bush was president.

Posted by: zosima | December 29, 2010 3:39 AM | Report abuse

"Krazen, you do understand we are in a really big recession, right? You keep pointing to this huge increase in Medicaid and unemployment bennies, but increasing Medicaid and unemployment is SOP for an economic downturn, and this is the biggest one since the Great Depression."

Actually, we didn't have Medicaid during the Great Depression. This massive, unjustified spending increase of an already wasteful program is relatively new territory.


"And it's still notable the best example of Democrat budget malfeasance is from 45 years ago, when they failed to anticipate or account for high health care cost inflation decades later."

Goldwater, Reagan, Bush Sr. and Dole all warned them......who didn't listen?

Posted by: krazen1211 | December 29, 2010 1:16 PM | Report abuse

"@Krazen, I love it! You never address the actual point of the article (What's the evidence that the GOP ever allows deficits to come between them and the policies they want to pass?), you just cry "What about LBJ and the libtards!?" Brilliant arguement! BRILLIANT!!!! Would you consider being my attorney? I can see it now... "Your honor, I know my client is on video surveillance robbing the convenience store, but DID YOU NOTICE THAT GUY SHOPLIFTING A CANDYBAR!?!?""

Any discussion of a fiscally irresponsible Medicare Part D program can only begin with the 4x fiscally irresponsible Medicare Part B program that it was designed after.

Anything less is dishonest.


The question is whether you prefer temporary wars in Iraq or permanent budget decimation by the Medicaid program, which of course also totals state budgets as well.

Posted by: krazen1211 | December 29, 2010 1:20 PM | Report abuse

"This point about Medicaid has little to do with Obama and the current democrats. Because it provides medical services for the poor and recessions create poor people, Medicaid spends a lot more money in a recession. Economists call this type of program an "automatic stabilizer"."

Considering that Lyndon Johnson put Medicaid on the national credit card without an offsetting payroll tax and Democrats like Ted Kennedy gleefully went along, this only changes how much is charged to it year after year after year.

Posted by: krazen1211 | December 29, 2010 1:25 PM | Report abuse

@krazen: You continually harp on the miscalculation of the costs of Medicare to tar Democrats. But you don't emphasize enough that much of it was a miscalculation: the costs were higher than anyone thought. That doesn't show that Democrats were fiscally irresponsible at the time.

By contrast, Republicans ignore costs that are in-your-face evident at the time. The prescription drug benefit was completely unpaid for. Two wars were completely unpaid for (so much for "support the troops" and all that). Bush's tax cuts were completely unpaid for (you know, back when they said that going into deficit to stimulate the economy was sound economic practice). And the incoming House majority is proposing rules that still more tax cuts don't have to be budget-neutral but can just add to the nation's credit card. Republican additions to the debt are not based on bad forecasts, but willful, long-term, and with eyes wide open.

Moreover, isn't there a statute of limitations on this stuff? Today's Democrats obviously don't support the KKK, even though some of them did 100 years ago. If we're discussing the parties' positions today, won't we get a more accurate picture by looking at recent events than those of 50 years ago?

Posted by: dasimon | December 29, 2010 3:15 PM | Report abuse

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