Republicans Don’t Care about the Deficit

I’ll use this article as the preface to my mini-rant about the GOP and deficits.  Kevin Drum talks about an article by Charles Krauthammer.  As Drum says, Mr. K is the type of small-government conservative  who’s only interested in keeping government small on the things he doesn’t like.  He’s plenty OK with government that he “gets a kick out of.”  Krauthammer’s focus is the end of the Space Shuttle program.  I’m generally with him – I think it’s something we shouldn’t be giving up on.  But then again, I’m not one who pretends that shrinking the deficit should be our number one priority as a country.  I think Drum’s question to Krauthammer should be asked of many a supposed small government conservative – would you “agree to raise taxes on the wealthy in order to do it?” 

This leads me to my rant, which I’ve mentioned in other places on-line.  If you think the deficit is the number one problem and should get the lion’s share of our policy focus, you should support increasing revenue in the country.  If you don’t support raising taxes, then you are like Mr. Krauthammer (and GWB) only interested in shrinking the parts of the government you don’t like.  If you’re not willing to take some pain in the form of higher taxes that will be necessary for more revenues or even to advocate cuts to programs that you actually support, then you’re not a deficit hawk.  You’re just a conservative, partisan or ideologue.

5 thoughts on “Republicans Don’t Care about the Deficit

  1. Hmm… first of all, the President has said that he is less interested in the revenue resulting from taxation than he is in using for redistributionist purposes (“spreading the wealth around.”) This does not strike me as an argument for increased taxation helping the deficit issue. Secondly, if the problem is that spending exceeds revenue, why isn’t it acceptable simply to reduce spending until it is even with current revenue? Is every penny the government spends so terribly vital that it warrants jacking up taxes? You aren’t arguing here — you’re merely asserting.

    1. Nice deflect there Professor. I’ll leave a discussion of the President’s policies for another day. Neither the President nor most Democrats claim to be “deficit hawks.” My point is that you can’t claim to be a deficit hawk or think that the deficit is the single most important issue we face as a country and not consider the revenue side of the ledger. Your proposal is straight out of the conservative/GOP playbook, but it’s focused on spending. Or lower taxes. Those are bad ideas for reasons we can discuss another time. The question is the deficit. In order to get the deficit down in the shortest possible time frame, you need to consider revenue. If you don’t think revenue is the answer, then you’re just a conservative or a partisan, you don’t REALLY care about the deficit.

      1. Again, you’ve done nothing to support your argument. Revenue is an answer. Not spending money you don’t have is an answer. Some combination of the two is still another. You may prefer some answers to others. However, that doesn’t mean that the others are prima facie invalid. Sorry, but just because a proposed solution doesn’t include your preferred approach, it doesn’t mean that those who propose the solution aren’t serious — it just means the audience may lack imagination.

  2. I guess you’re kinda right. Sure, saying that we should just reduce spending to fit the current level of revenues is an answer. But I think you know that such a cut would result in the wholesale elimination of some combination of Social Security, Medicare, defense, the FBI, prisons and many other things that even conservatives support and which no elected official has proposed in any way shape or form. So I guess I was leaving out the implicit “serious” before the idea of an answer.

    My main point in this criticism goes back to the idea that Krauthammer, who ostensibly favors reducing the deficit and like immediately already, is quick to support federal funding for things he likes. So, instead of being a deficit hawk, he’s really just a partisan or conservative. I stand by my original proposition that, if you really think the deficit is the biggest problem we face, then you have to consider revenues as part of your proposed solution. There is no serious, viable way to fix that problem without them.

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