The Tax Or Spend Hypocrisy
Patrick Ruffini is an intelligent blogger, and I’ve been reading his blog since before blogging was cool, way back in 1997. But, as he’s become a bigger name in Republican circles, he’s waded into partisan hackery and at times abandoned his intellectual roots.
They may balk at the price tag, which at $675-$775 billion over two years would be the largest, most dramatic dollar-per-dollar expansion of government — and the national debt — in American history.
Which he follows up with a proposal for $250 billion in tax cuts, which is rumored to already be part of Obama’s plan, but I digress. He ends his piece with this little gem:
But Beinart misses one thing: who left office with a 65% approval rating, and who leaves office with a sub-30% approval rating? Gridlock-induced fiscal responsibility eventually worked out for Bill Clinton. The opposite did not work out for George Bush, whose playing against type on spending cost him the support of his base.
Aside from some whiny Young Turks in Congress and bloggers like him, Bush hasn’t lost the support of his base. It’s why he remains at 30% in the polls even as the full cost of his policies were realized with a collapse of the financial and auto-manufacturing industries.
But let me get back to the initial quote I pulled. An average stimulus plan of $725 billion over two years would not be the fastest growth of national debt in American history, as Patrick claims. One just needs to look at this year’s $150 billion stimulus plan and $750 billion financial bailout to see we’ve well-exceeded even the rumored plans of Obama’s.
Yet, we should back up and look at 2001. We cut taxes by $1.3 trillion over 10 years, a debt that was exploded by a recession after 9/11 and the decision to accelerate those initial round of tax cuts. We’ve added $5 trillion in national debt in 8 years. That’s more than $1.25 trillion every two years. And unlike a temporary infusion of capital for infrastructure spending that will dissipate in two years, we’ve run up the debt mostly on tax reductions, which are nortoriously difficult to repeal, even upon their expiration date, as well as a massive expansion of a health insurance program that was already financially fragile, by adding a prescription drug benefit.
Regardless of the merits of a plan that has yet to be unveiled, to claim that Obama’s economic recovery plan is the biggest expansion of government and national debt in history requires nothing short of a rhetorical blindfold on the last eight years.