Why Republicans really hate deficits

Love Drum’s analysis here:

Yep. Republicans haven’t cared about the deficit for decades. They got a bit worried about it when Ronald Reagan’s 1981 tax cut didn’t pay for itself the way he promised, and this prompted them to reluctantly pass Reagan’s 1982 tax increase. But they very quickly sent that 1982 bill down the memory hole, pretending to this day that Saint Ronnie never increased taxes. Since then, they’ve cared about deficits only when Democrats were in office.

As it happens, I don’t think there’s anything nefarious about this. Republicans don’t like Democratic spending priorities, and yelling about the deficit is a very effective way of objecting to all of them without having to waste time arguing about each one separately. It’s an effective strategy with the press corps, which for some reason is deficit-phobic, and it’s effective with the public, which generally retains its belief that government finances are similar to household finances. If I were a Republican, I’d latch onto deficits as an anti-spending tactic too. It works pretty well.

That said, it’s still worth keeping the truth in mind. What frustrates me isn’t so much that Republicans do this—that’s just politics—but that the press so routinely lets them get away with it. I understand the constraints they work under, but still. The difference between actual Republican priorities and claimed Republican priorities is so obvious that it hardly counts as editorializing to point it out.

About these ads

About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State http://faculty.chass.ncsu.edu/shgreene

One Response to Why Republicans really hate deficits

  1. Stefan Haag says:

    I think that Krugman’s assessment, quoted in Drum, is even better:
    ” They care about exploiting the deficit to pursue their goal of dismantling the social insurance system. They want a fiscal crisis; they need it; they’re enjoying it. I mean, how is ‘starve the beast’ supposed to work? Precisely by creating a fiscal crisis, giving you an excuse to slash Social Security and Medicare.”
    I think that Republicans just don’t like [I]government[/I] spending with the exception of defense spending. Thus, they use the deficit and debt to convince people that we need to cut spending. Thus, the mantra: “The government has a spending problem,” although the tax rates are at their lowest levels since the 1950s.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 526 other followers

%d bloggers like this: