Referring to the teabagger-inspired House R budget, John Boehner was asked (and Dana Milbank writes about it):
"Do you have any sort of estimate on how many jobs will be lost through this?" Pacifica Radio's Leigh Ann Caldwell inquired at a news conference just before the House began its debate on the cuts.
Boehner stood firm in his polished tassel loafers. "Since President Obama has taken office the federal government has added 200,000 new federal jobs, and if some of those jobs are lost in this, so be it," he said.
"Do you have any estimate of how many will?" Caldwell pressed. "And won't that negatively impact the economy?"
"I do not," Boehner replied, moving to the next questioner.
Well, Mr. Speaker, I do. I checked with budget expert Scott Lilly of the Center for American Progress, and, using the usual multipliers, he calculated that the cuts - a net of $59 billion in the last half of fiscal 2011 - would lead to the loss of 650,000 government jobs, and the indirect loss of 325,000 more jobs as fewer government workers travel and buy things. That's nearly 1 million jobs - possibly enough to tip the economy back into recession.
So be it?
It's a dilemma: what to wish for?
A cockeyed optimist, I keep thinking that once people understand the devastation that would be brought upon us were the current crop of Republicans to have their way, it'd be the end of them and we'd get back to trying to make sense. So there's a part of me that says, screw it: let them catch the car they're chasing and see what they do when they have it. Let voters have the opportunity to say, gee, I didn't know that would happen.
But I also know that if they actually get their way it's likely we'd never recover. We have once, sort of, barely. I can't imagine how it could happen again. The next time will be different: instead of starting with a strong economy and budget surplus, we'd be kicking ourselves while we're still down. Hard.
Conservatism could once be described as a three-cornered stool: social, economic and national security conservatives.
Today though it’s more relevant to think of conservatism as an attempt to draw a line connecting four points:
1) No tax increase
2) No defense cuts
3) No Medicare cuts
4) Rapid move to a balanced budget.
Obviously it’s impossible to meet all four of those commitments. It would be difficult enough to combine #4 with even two of the first three...
... Much of the 2012 GOP presidential nomination will attempt to send signals as to which commitments each candidate will sacrifice. Since so much of this signaling is non-verbal, it will be hard to pin down who truly is committed to which. ...
... You can play this game at home too – and it may tell you a lot about the kind of conservative you really are.
In the spirit of full disclosure, here’s how I’d square the quadrangle.
I don’t think we should be moving rapidly to budget balance. The time for budget austerity begins when unemployment drops below 7%, not before.
I don’t think we can cut defense spending before we have successfully concluded commitments in Iraq and Afghanistan. And generally I favor the Herb Stein approach to budgeting: First you decide how much it costs to maintain America’s global supremacy. Everything else comes after that.
I affirmatively want to see Medicare squeezed. The American health system is wasteful, wasteful, wasteful.
I am prepared to accept tax increases provided they fall on consumption and pollution rather than work, saving and investment. A carbon tax yes, a VAT if need be, but no increases in personal or corporate income taxes or capital gains taxes. On the other hand, the 15% tax rate on corporate dividends seems to me a laughably unjustifiable giveaway, even though I personally benefit from it.