Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Gwen Moore, deficit hawk?

Read her editorial in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and draw your own conclusions.  Personally, I like what she's saying.
But so far, Republicans are only cutting non-defense, discretionary funding, which accounts for somewhere around 14% of the budget. Mind you, 14% is a lot, and it includes funding for health centers, schools, transportation, medical research, veterans, housing and much more. But with this year's deficit projected above $1.5 trillion, even if we eliminated all of this, we won't balance our budget.

Right now, as a share of our economy, federal revenue is the lowest it has been since Harry Truman was president and federal spending is the highest it has been over the same time frame. This is unsustainable. And it is proof positive that we cannot balance our budget on spending cuts alone.
This is what I've been saying for quite some time now.  The areas where the Republicans in Congress want to cut simply can't balance the budget without looking elsewhere.  I saw a recent poll where Republican voters thought that foreign aid spending and funding for NPR made up 5% of the budget.  In reality, they represent something like .01%.  Sorry to say that you can't balance the budget just be eliminating "librul" programs.  But wait, there's Moore (ba boom tish):
Unfortunately, my friend Rep. Paul Ryan, won't consider any revenue raisers. Our tax code lets corporations and people with lawyers pay less than their fair share. Our tax code encourages companies to keep earnings off shore. Our tax code even has a provision that favors debt as a financing source. Now, let's remember, companies with too much debt were a cause of the financial crisis. Changing this provision from a pre-tax deduction to a tax credit would save $77 billion.
(Italics mine.)  And why is this the case, Congresswoman Moore?  Because, as I said yesterday, the current incarnation of the GOP might just as well be reconstituted as the Church of Cut My Taxes.  Thanks to the ever-changing rhetoric of the Bush Administration, which somehow managed to justify cutting taxes in every possible economic and budgetary climate (surplus, deficit, expansion, recession), one party in this country is now wholly committed - with nigh-religious fervor - to the proposition that no increase in government revenue is ever justifiable or necessary.  And bear in mind, before you throw out lines about "tax-and-spend" liberalism, that those Bush-era tax cuts took place within the context of massive expansion of government spending, particularly because of two hugely expensive wars (tax increases in wartime used to be considered patriotic - see, e.g., FDR) and a gargantuan entitlement boondoggle (Medicare Part D) rammed through a Republican-controlled Congress by the Republican leadership at the behest of the Republican White House.  Say what you want about "tax-and-spend," at least that system expands expenditures along with revenue.  21st Century Republicanism has consisted entirely of cutting revenue but spending more anyway.  How absurd is that?

The arithmetic is clear.  You simply cannot balance the budget without talking about defense spending, entitlement reform (there, I said it - and so did Congresswoman Moore, you'll notice if you read the article), and increased revenue.  One party, it seems, is willing to have a serious discussion about these things.  Hell, the Secretary of Defense wants to cut $80 billion in spending from his own department.  Unfortunately, the party in control of Congress seems to be too busy pandering to ignorant tea party-types (who actually believe we can balance the budget by cutting discretionary spending alone) to listen.

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