It’s not about the deficit

A lot of the news for the past several weeks has been about the deficit. There is a certain hysteria that we now have a huge deficit and nothing, including jobs, is more important than cutting the deficit.

The concern is driven by the Republicans, and especially by the Tea Party caucus. It’s fair to ask where they were when the deficit leaped up during the Bush 41 administration, or why policy issues like Planned Parenthood are more important than deficit reduction.The clear answer is that they don’t care about the deficit. What they care about is eliminating programs they don’t like, including health care reform and social security. Health care reform, to take an example, actually reduces the deficit. The Ryan budget increases the deficit, largely by repealing health care reform.

Reducing taxes increases the deficit. We know that from what is now 30 years experience with tax cuts. But the Ryan plan cuts taxes yet again, to levels not seen since 1929. Now that was a good year.

The point here is that we shouldn’t get sucked into a debate about the deficit with people who don’t care about it, but are merely posturing as a way of cutting the programs they don’t like. We’ve known this since the Reagan administration when Grover Norquist set out the agenda, which was to cut taxes until government got so small it could be drowned in a bathtub.

It’s not about the deficit. It’s about cutting important programs that protect the poor and middle class while cutting taxes for the wealthy. That’s what the GOP and Tea Party want to do.

Don’t get sucked into the wrong debate. Let’s instead talk about jobs, education, infrastructure, research and development. Those grow the economy and, with growth and increased tax revenue, the deficit takes care of itself.

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