Ta-Nehisi Coates Is Reading George Fitzhugh's "Cannibals All"
Contractionary Policy Is Contractionary Watch: The United Kingdom

The Republican Party: Budget Arsonists Wearing Fire Chief Hats

If this were a good world, all the reporters who have been talking about how the Republican Party is made up of deficit hawks would dress themselves up in sackcloth and smear themselves with ashes today...

Republicans and Their Debt Happy Policies

Jamelle Boule:

Republicans and Their Debt-Happy Policies: The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities revises its widely-used deficit chart to reflect the chief drivers debt since the beginning of last decade.... Together, the Bush tax cuts -- and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan -- account for a huge chunk of current and projected public debt.... [I]t's amazing how much of this has evaded public conversation over debts and deficits. With few exceptions, Republican scaremongering on the debt has come from lawmakers who wholeheartedly supported the offending policies. Both Paul Ryan and John Boehner voted for the Bush tax cuts, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Medicare Part D and deregulatory policies that contributed to the financial collapse. As director of OMB under President Bush, not only was Mitch Daniels chief advocate for the president's tax cuts, but he consistently lowballed the cost of the Iraq War, promising a $60 billion adventure instead of a trillion dollar quagmire. And now, we're treated to a host of Republican proposals that promise to increase debt over the next decade, cut taxes for the wealthy, and reduce the social safety net to tatters. Actual budget seriousness has evaded the Republican Party for at least a decade, if not more, but this has yet to make a dent in the public consciousness. It's baffling.

It's not one decade. It's three. And it has yet to make a dent in the public consciousness because a lot of reporters work hard to try to keep it from making a dent in the public consciousness.

Ezra Klein is an exception:

How more stimulus could reduce the deficit, and vice versa: “Mentions of unemployment have been dwindling since they spiked to 154 in the month ending August 15, 2010; over the month ending Sunday, there were 63,” reports Clifford Marks. “Deficit mentions, meanwhile, surged up to 261 in the month ending December 15, 2010, when the leaders of President Obama’s deficit commission released their final report.” Sigh. This is easy enough to explain. Washington has stopped caring about the unemployed and begun caring, or pretending to care, about the deficit. That’s led the media to focus on the deficit. And, in what Greg Sargent has dubbed the “Beltway Feedback Loop,” that’s heightened public anxiety over the deficit, which has in turn convinced politicians to focus more on the deficit, which has further pushed the media in that direction, and so on.

But it isn’t just wrong. It’s counterproductive. And not just for the economy. For the deficit.

The jobs crisis is vastly more pressing than our debt problems, but it’s also... interconnected... a weak labor market means... tax revenues come in low and social spending needs to be high. It’s very hard to begin deficit reduction in any serious way before unemployment comes down.... [S]econd, and perhaps more importantly for deficit hawks, the jobs crisis is leverage for deficit reduction. A little bit of stimulus could buy you a lot of deficit reduction. Imagine if Republicans offered Democrats a 4:1:1 deal: For every $4 of specific spending cuts over the next 12 years, they’d back $1 of tax increases and $1 of stimulus. A deficit-reduction deal that cut $3 trillion would carry $1 trillion in tax increases — so, $4 trillion in total deficit reduction — and $1 trillion in stimulus. Who’s the liberal who’d say no? And yet, that’s a big deficit reduction package. Among the biggest in our history, actually....

But that deal isn’t on the table. In fact, there’s no stimulus money or tax increases on the table at all. And that’s because, for Republicans, deficit reduction is not the top priority. It’s lower, for instance, than opposing tax increases and stimulus. If it wasn’t, we’d have a deal already.... [S]ome policy problems are very hard to solve, but this one isn’t. There’s a win-win on the table, a deal that could address both the problems and the politics, but Washington seems entirely uninterested in it.