A Philosopher's Blog

Pledging a Deficit

Posted in Politics by Michael LaBossiere on September 26, 2010
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While I have been accused of being a typical liberal, I am actually a fiscal conservative. This means that I think that we should be careful in our expenditures and be certain that what we are getting is worth the cost. I am also not a big fan of taxes. In general, I think that I can spend my money more wisely that the folks in Congress. However, I do recognize the need to fund essential public goods and services, such as education, defense (against enemies foreign, domestic and medical), and infrastructure.

When Republicans talk about cutting the deficit and reducing taxes, my ears perk up a little bit (they would perk up more, but I am familiar with their past promises). Seeing their actual plans, in contrast, makes my eyes sad. This was true in the Contract with America and is also true in regards to the latest Republican “X to/with/on/behind America.”

In addition to the usual vague statements about “traditional family values” and reducing the deficit, they also present a fiscal agenda. Unfortunately, this agenda is inconsistent with reducing the deficit.

First, they plan to extend all the Bush tax cuts. While this is supposed to help the economy, the fact that these tax cuts have been in effect through the recession should indicate something about how effective they are in that regard. As far as the deficit goes, the estimate is that keeping all the cuts in place will increase the deficit about $4 trillion by 2020.

Second, they plan to offer small businesses new tax breaks over the next two years to the tune of $25 billion. While the received wisdom is that small businesses create jobs, the actual job numbers seems to contradict this. If this is the case, than tax cuts for small businesses would not be a wise investment and would seem to primarily serve to increase the deficit. Of course, politics is a largely about perception and not reality and the perception is that small business is the key to American employment.

Third, they explicitly leave national security funding out of the cuts, despite the fact that defense and security spending are truly massive. It is indeed ironic that one area in which some meaningful and effective cuts could be made is being placed off limits. Lest anyone think I am anti-defense liberal, my view on defense spending is largely influenced by Eisenhower and Gates. As such, I am for an effective defense while being against the defense of the bloated and wasteful.

Fourth, as far as what they plan on cutting, they point to $100 billion in discretionary spending that is not related to security. However, this is a rather small amount and the plan is currently lacking details as to what, exactly will be cut.  They also say they will push back Obamacare while also suggesting that any popular aspects of the plan will be retained.

In light of this, it seems unreasonable to believe that the Republicans plan would actually reduce the deficit. In fact, it seems reasonable to expect that it would actually increase it. They, as politicians do, rely on the hope that people will be taken in by their vague promises while not actually looking at the details. The Republicans promised fiscal restraint years ago and then spent eight years amassing a mountain of debt. I suspect that they will do the same if given the chance.

Lest anyone leap in and accuse me of favoring the Democrats, I will say that Clinton did a good job, but that it seems equally unlikely that the Democrats will do anything meaningful about the deficit. I had hoped that the Tea Party would have had more of an impact on the Republicans, but it seems that spending is now hardwired into both parties.

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14 Responses

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  1. T. J. Babson said, on September 26, 2010 at 8:10 am

    “I had hoped that the Tea Party would have had more of an impact on the Republicans, but it seems that spending is now hardwired into both parties.”

    Give the tea party time. It will take a couple of election cycles, and this is only the first one.

    Meanwhile, this is fat becoming the CW:

    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2010-09-25/-black-swan-author-taleb-says-obama-s-stimulus-made-economic-crisis-worse.html

    U.S. President Barack Obama and his administration weakened the country’s economy by seeking to foster growth instead of paying down the federal debt, said Nassim Nicholas Taleb, author of “The Black Swan.”

    “Obama did exactly the opposite of what should have been done,” Taleb said yesterday in Montreal in a speech as part of Canada’s Salon Speakers series. “He surrounded himself with people who exacerbated the problem. You have a person who has cancer and instead of removing the cancer, you give him tranquilizers. When you give tranquilizers to a cancer patient, they feel better but the cancer gets worse.”

    • Michael LaBossiere said, on September 26, 2010 at 10:38 am

      I am worried that the Tea Party will be assimilated into the Republican party in a way that strips it of the principle of fiscal conservatism. I think the movement would be better served by distancing itself from the Republicans a bit and backing candidates who are truly for fiscal reform. They also seem to be hurting their prospects in some cases by backing what seem to be candidates who seem, to paraphrase Rove, a bit nutty.

      What might be a real improvement is a movement focused clearly on fiscal matters without the baggage of the some of the apparent racism and right leaning social views.

      • themadjewess said, on September 26, 2010 at 2:11 pm

        There is no racism in the tea party’s, so that needs to stop. Saying that is SO OLD.

        All they do is work on NOT coming across racist and have missed their mark–TOTALLY.

        And, come on Sir.. Please, everyone is a bigot and a racist. We are ALL like that in life. We like to hang with people that are in agreement with us over our views. MANY people hang with people that LOOK like them, b/c it is NORMAL.

        You realize that saying the t-party is racist is just robotic? Especially since the last poll on the teaparty that went out has minorities in FAVOR of the tea-parties?

        When did people label themselves as this or that?
        I am an AMERICAN.
        I can hang with whomever I chose, and if I dont like someone b/c they are black/white, Asian-ETC, that is NONE of anybodies G’d business.
        GROW UP AMERICA.

        • Shane said, on September 26, 2010 at 11:11 pm

          Nah…they’re nutty

          • kernunos said, on September 27, 2010 at 12:39 pm

            You would sure think so if you only watched the Left Wing Media.

      • kernunos said, on September 27, 2010 at 12:32 pm

        “What might be a real improvement is a movement focused clearly on fiscal matters without the baggage of the some of the apparent racism and right leaning social views.”- I agree with the mad cat. The so called racism of the Tea Party is just made up by the left. The mantra is repeated time and time again yet there is little to no proof. You are falling into the trap of constantly repeating your ‘opinion’ on the matter as if it is already proven as true. Which of your fallacies would this fall under?

      • kernunos said, on September 27, 2010 at 12:43 pm

        The Republican party may destroy itself if they do not pick up the Conservative torch again. This is where we disagree Mike but I’m telling you as a conservative I have no use for the Republican party even after their new pledge. They still arent’ listening. They are in danger of becoming irrelevant to the point of extinction. Then some other party will take its place. Tea Party? Who knows but probably not as the left has tried to discredit the party with lies and deception.

      • kernunos said, on September 27, 2010 at 12:46 pm

        “I am worried that the Tea Party will be assimilated into the Republican party in a way that strips it of the principle of fiscal conservatism.” Are you on another planet? That is one of the recurring widespread themes of the Tea Party. When was the last time the Republicans were fiscally conservative?

        • Erik said, on September 27, 2010 at 4:36 pm

          We talking 19th century fiscal conservatism, Reaganomics, or what passes for fiscal conservatism today? Is fiscal conservatism a teaparty theme, or is the tp just another anti-tax movement?

  2. T. J. Babson said, on September 26, 2010 at 8:48 am

    It would appear the Democrats are equally devoid of ideas:

    Democrats Unleash Ads Focusing on Rivals’ Pasts
    By JEFF ZELENY

    WASHINGTON — Democratic candidates across the country are opening a fierce offensive of negative advertisements against Republicans, using lawsuits, tax filings, reports from the Better Business Bureau and even divorce proceedings to try to discredit their opponents and save their Congressional majority.

    Opposition research and attack advertising are used in almost every election, but these biting ads are coming far earlier than ever before, according to party strategists. The campaign has intensified in the last two weeks as early voting begins in several states and as vulnerable incumbents try to fight off an onslaught of influences by outside groups.

    As they struggle to break through with economic messages, many Democrats are deploying the fruits of a yearlong investigation into the business and personal histories of Republican candidates in an effort to plant doubts about them and avoid having races become a national referendum on the performance of President Obama and his party.

    *********

    So far, many Republican candidates are forcefully defending themselves but not taking the bait by starting their own personal offensives. A review of television advertisements presented since Labor Day showed that the Republicans were basing theirs almost entirely on the records of Democrats on health care, the economic stimulus package and the first vote the Democrats cast when Congress convened in 2009: for making Nancy Pelosi speaker of the House.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/26/us/politics/26dems.html?_r=1&pagewanted=print

    • Michael LaBossiere said, on September 26, 2010 at 10:41 am

      Unfortunately, neither party seems to have the will to say what should be said and then do what needs to be done. Of course, it is hard to blame them. If they did this, they would not be elected. The beauty of democracy is that we give ourselves what we deserve. In this case, crappy politicians.

      • themadjewess said, on September 26, 2010 at 2:16 pm

        Michael:
        Can you explain why the far left democrats, when they put out advertisement for ‘pro-choice’ they almost ALWAYS use minorities?

        Can you explain WHY the DNC does ZERO to oust Waters and Rangels?

        I will tell u why they do not take out the trash:

        Democrats believe that blacks are animals, therefore must be treated as such. An animal does not know when it is doing wrong.
        That is why the DEMS do not treat the blacks equal. Any white guy that did the same as Rangels or Waters would have been kicked out long ago.

        Racism?
        Look no further than the DNC.
        Stupidity and weakness? Look no further than the GOP.
        All the same, just different personalities.

      • kernunos said, on September 27, 2010 at 12:38 pm

        Funny how that goes except when someone brings up truly conservative principles then they usually get elected. Obama ran on conservative principles to get elected with the general populace and then espoused his socialist principles to target audiences on the left. Of, course he absolutely lied to the general populace and thus his approval numbers are dropping like a rock as people find this out.

  3. Greg Camp said, on September 27, 2010 at 4:59 pm

    Apparently, irrevlevancy is the order of the day. What did this article have to do with racism?

    On topic, I recall a speculation from the late eighties that Reagan cut taxes while not cutting spending out of a goal to run the Federal government into such debt that eventually, no social spending would be possible. How’s that for a conspiracy theory?

    Of course, no party is willing to stop spending money. Spending is never replacement spending or reformed spending; it’s just new spending.


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