Republicans are still running on deficit reduction, but as the election nears, their governing agenda reveals something that close observers recognized all along: Deficit reduction was never the point. Whether acceding to political reality, or proactively moving messaging bills through the House, the GOP has quietly let on that they’re fine with deficits — as long as they come in the right flavor.
House Republican leaders began the year with an embarrassing defeat over extending the 2012 payroll tax holiday. Democrats held their ground and insisted that the payroll tax cut either be paid for with a mix of spending cuts and higher taxes on the wealthy, or not at all — no more of the GOP’s cuts-only approach. The GOP blinked and agreed to add more than $100 billion to the debt, rather than accept even a penny in higher taxes on the wealthy, or face the blame for allowing the payroll tax cut to lapse.
Weeks later, Republicans unveiled their new budget, written by Rep. Paul Ryan, which includes steep tax cuts and military-spending increases — both of which run counter to the deficit-cutting ethos to which the GOP laid claim. ...
The contrast is particularly stark this week: Senate Republicans blocked the Buffett Rule, dismissing its capacity to raise $47 billion over 10 years, while House Republicans are pushing a broad business tax cut that would add $46 billion to the deficit in just one year [my emphasis]. On top of that, House committees are now looking for ways to override automatic cuts to defense spending they agreed to last August as a means of enforcing the controversial debt-limit deal.
This is no surprise to anyone who's been paying attention (far too few of us, I'm afraid). The Republican Party uses the mounting deficit as a political talking point, but it's certainly not something they care about.
In fact, a higher deficit simply gives them more political ammunition to use against the Obama administration, even when they're responsible for it. (Likewise, they've been dragging their feet on the economic recovery - even actively sabotaging it - because a terrible economy helps them. And as the "anti-government" party, a U.S. government that doesn't work also benefits them, even when they're responsible for that.)
Look at the George W. Bush administration. Republicans controlled all three branches of the federal government, and the deficit skyrocketed. It's still increasing, overwhelmingly as a result of Bush's tax cuts for the rich, the two unnecessary wars he started (without raising taxes to pay for), and GOP policies which collapsed our economy into a new Great Depression.
And Republicans haven't changed their minds about any of these things. Rather than let Bush's tax cuts expire as scheduled, they want them extended permanently, plus even more cuts for the very wealthiest of Americans. They want a third war, with Iran - again, without paying for it - and they want to increase military spending, even though we already spend more on our military than the rest of the world combined.
They pooh-pooh $47 billion as not enough money to even bother with. Really, why should the wealthy, poor things, have to pay as high a tax rate as the rest of us? At the same time, when it's spending they don't like (anything but military spending or corporate welfare), costs thousands of times less than that give them apoplexy.
Well, if you believe anything the Republicans say, you haven't been paying attention in recent years. Unfortunately, that describes a good half of our country. I hope it's not more than that, but I'm not optimistic.
That anyone still votes Republican, after what they've done to us in the past decade or so, just amazes me. That the polls are close really beggars belief.