Monday, September 27, 2010

The GOP's war on math

Paul Krugman on the GOP's promise to cut the deficit, either by declaring war arithmetic or eliminating government. We aren't sure which one yet.

On Thursday, House Republicans released their “Pledge to America,” supposedly outlining their policy agenda. In essence, what they say is, “Deficits are a terrible thing. Let’s make them much bigger.” The document repeatedly condemns federal debt — 16 times, by my count. But the main substantive policy proposal is to make the Bush tax cuts permanent, which independent estimates say would add about $3.7 trillion to the debt over the next decade — about $700 billion more than the Obama administration’s tax proposals.
True, the document talks about the need to cut spending. But as far as I can see, there’s only one specific cut proposed — canceling the rest of the Troubled Asset Relief Program, which Republicans claim (implausibly) would save $16 billion. That’s less than half of 1 percent of the budget cost of those tax cuts. As for the rest, everything must be cut, in ways not specified — “except for common-sense exceptions for seniors, veterans, and our troops.” In other words, Social Security, Medicare and the defense budget are off-limits.

So what’s left? Howard Gleckman of the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center has done the math. As he points out, the only way to balance the budget by 2020, while simultaneously (a) making the Bush tax cuts permanent and (b) protecting all the programs Republicans say they won’t cut, is to completely abolish the rest of the federal government: “No more national parks, no more Small Business Administration loans, no more export subsidies, no more N.I.H. No more Medicaid (one-third of its budget pays for long-term care for our parents and others with disabilities). No more child health or child nutrition programs. No more highway construction. No more homeland security. Oh, and no more Congress.”


Robert Sievers said...

In this Dan you and I may agree. We must cut Social Security and Medicare too in order to straighten out this mess.

Mind you, I am caring much less, because I don't have kids, so what difference does it make to me if the sinking ship keeps going down?

PG said...

Well, I've got kids, but I probably shouldn't have had them. The earth can't sustain the dream of consumption and power that conservatives dream about. Somebody's got to go.

That's my new solution for everything: we're all going to die anyway. If I get cancer, that's my health care plan (a notion I share with most Republicans). Half the species are going to be extinct in the next 40 years, too.

I just feel sorry for the ones who so are wrapped up in their money. It must be awfully oppressive and frantic to put so much stock in owning and accumulating stuff and making sure it is better than somebody else's. My sense is that people who love money can't even enjoy a good restaurant meal. What they enjoy is that they were able to pay for a meal that other people weren't. They travel and stay at luxury hotels and never understand the places they visit or the people who live there. Their loss.

Luckily, I like to work. My most recent job -- half-time fifth grade teacher for ESL and Spanish/Bilingual kids -- I took without even knowing how much I was making. I still don't know. It goes direct deposit into my bank account. I check every so often to make sure it hasn't dipped down to the cash reserve.

brownie said...


And what was Congress thinking when they invited Colbert to testify on something with which he has no experience, knowledge or expertise?

I'm glad I asked. Here's what: They were bored and wanted some free entertainment. That can be the only answer, because his snarky appearance was nothing but an insult to the serious issues that face migrant workers.

And math sucks.

Dan S said...

I think Colbert succeeded, because we wouldn't be talking about a committee on migrant workers if he hadn't testified...

Tim said...


Colbert brought much media attention to the issue. I think getting a hearing room full of cameras and reporters in exchange for ten minutes of jokes is an easy trade-off. It wasn't free entertainment, it was free publicity.

What experience or expertise did Jerry Lewis have on MDA? None, but he brought much attention to the issue.

Sam said...

good thing that Obama cut Medicare substantially with the health care bill.

Now, if we can just convince the Republicans and Democrats to fight themselves to a standstill on the Bush tax cuts, so that they all expire at the end of the year and we can return to Clinton era tax rates, our long term budget will actually be back relatively close to balance.

Also, all of these estimates of catastrophe assume that medical care will continue to increase in cost significantly above the rate of inflation through the next 60 years. I confess I think this is unlikely. Nothing else in our economy acts like this, why would medicine?