Friday, February 24, 2012

Deficit Deficits

Here's a report on the impact of Republican candidates' announced fiscal policies, produced by the "Committee For A Responsible Federal Budget," which, based on the people who comprise it (as seen in the linked pdf), is a pretty non-partisan and qualified bunch. It's thorough and complex enough that I don't follow it all (i.e., my eyes sort of glazed over). Someone else has summarized its finding in the above bar graph. Interestingly, only Ron Paul actually reduces deficit long-term, matching Obama. Paul, however, does it by eliminating so much of the essential functions of government that we'd either not make it to the point where the deficit reduction kicks in, or states would have to raise taxes by the equivalent amount, or die.

Not to mention that Ron Paul has zero chance of becoming president; and if he did, his plans would have less than zero chance of becoming law. Look at the rest of the R candidates to understand why.

But the point is this, and it's clear from the plans of the three leading candidates: much as they holler about "Obama's" deficits (while ignoring the reasons that led to them; namely, the previous failures of the very policies forward which they're pushing), they couldn't care less about them. All they want is to cut taxes on the wealthy. They'll make a show of cutting some spending, all right, but with the enthusiasm of the last guy to take a virginity pledge.

And none of them -- none, including especially Ron Paul -- is interested making the kind of choices need to balance fiscal and fiduciary responsibility. Meaning caring about the people (and, oh yeah, the country) most affected by their autistic focus on tax cuts above all.

As is stated in the second of the above links,

These plans don't accidentally raise the deficit. They just don't care about the deficit. Deficit reduction isn't hard to do, arithmetically. You raise taxes over time. You control discretionary spending. You clear the way for health care cost innovation while introducing policies that will limit health care in the future. It's not rocket science, it's math. The hard stuff is getting Congress to agree to your math. But how is that supposed to happen if pols refuse to do even the basic addition and subtraction when it's just them and a blank sheet of paper? What does it say about a party that believes "deficit reduction" is a worthy phrase, but not a worthy goal? And what does it say about our political system, and the GOP candidates in particular, that we're normalized to the idea that politicians offer debt-reduction plans that can't even live up to their name?

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