Paul Krugman is tired of Republican fraudsters powered by Magical Laffer Curve Fairies in general, but this year’s version of the Hunger Games is particularly bonkers.
So, about those budgets: both claim drastic reductions in federal spending. Some of those spending reductions are specified: There would be savage cuts in food stamps, similarly savage cuts in Medicaid over and above reversing the recent expansion, and an end to Obamacare’s health insurance subsidies. Rough estimates suggest that either plan would roughly double the number of Americans without health insurance. But both also claim more than a trillion dollars in further cuts to mandatory spending, which would almost surely have to come out of Medicare or Social Security. What form would these further cuts take? We get no hint.
Meanwhile, both budgets call for repeal of the Affordable Care Act, including the taxes that pay for the insurance subsidies. That’s $1 trillion of revenue. Yet both claim to have no effect on tax receipts; somehow, the federal government is supposed to make up for the lost Obamacare revenue. How, exactly? We are, again, given no hint.
And there’s more: The budgets also claim large reductions in spending on other programs. How would these be achieved? You know the answer.
It’s very important to realize that this isn’t normal political behavior. The George W. Bush administration was no slouch when it came to deceptive presentation of tax plans, but it was never this blatant. And the Obama administration has been remarkably scrupulous in its fiscal pronouncements.
O.K., I can already hear the snickering, but it’s the simple truth. Remember all the ridicule heaped on the spending projections in the Affordable Care Act? Actual spending is coming in well below expectations, and the Congressional Budget Office has marked its forecast for the next decadedown by 20 percent. Remember the jeering when President Obama declared that he would cut the deficit in half by the end of his first term? Well, a sluggish economy delayed things, but only by a year. The deficit in calendar 2013 was less than half its 2009 level, and it has continued to fall.
So, no, outrageous fiscal mendacity is neither historically normal nor bipartisan. It’s a modern Republican thing. And the question we should ask is why.
Well, the “why” part seems pretty obvious. “Break the government, then blame the government for being broken” has been the game at least since Reagan, and the solution is always to take a larger hammer to the federal machinery. Rolling back everything since the New Deal seems pretty much par for the course for these guys, if not cynically burning out the last of America’s consumerist resources before going on to new markets in China and India to exploit. It’s always been about pillaging the treasury and setting the place on fire on the way out the door.
Krugman ends with this:
Look, I know that it’s hard to keep up the outrage after so many years of fiscal fraudulence. But please try. We’re looking at an enormous, destructive con job, and you should be very, very angry.
And our problem is that we’re always finding new and exciting ways to direct that outrage at President Obama and the Democrats rather than the Republicans trying to talk us into self-immolation.