“Pledge to increase the deficit”

I borrowed the title straight from Chait because it was too good to pass up.  Given all the absurd posturing about “the deficit!” Here’s a chart that every Republican should be confronted with at every opportunity.

I’ll be somewhat lazy, and just paste Chait’s commentary as well, because it is spot-on (the omission, that he forgets to use the term “non-defense” before “discretionary spending”:

Even that is a generous grade for the Republican budget, as it assumes that the huge cuts to domestic discretionary spending will be carried out. Cutting domestic discretionary spending is a classic budget dodge. It’s a giant catch-all category of programs that have long resisted cutting either because they’re popular, vital, protected by powerful interest groups, or all three. A promise to cut domestic discretionary spending is a way to grasp anti-spending credibility without naming an actual program you plan to cut. (If opponents say, “Do you want to cut veterans’ spending? Highways? The Coast Guard?,” inevitably the response is no, we’ll cutsomething else.)

That’s a really important point– Americans are all for cutting spending in the abstract, but once you name a specific program, other than “welfare” (“aid to needy families” gets plenty of support), support for cuts evaporates.   The American National Election Studies have a series of questions about whether we should spend more, less, the same, on a variety of specific federal budget programs.  Among conservatives, very few every choose “less.”  Anyway, I think I’ll term the Republican plans “The Pledge to Increase the Deficit” in conversation and see how that goes.

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

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