Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Tax Cuts v. Deficit Reduction

Even as they hammer Democrats for running up record budget deficits, Senate Republicans are rolling out a plan to permanently extend an array of expiring tax breaks that would deprive the Treasury of more than $4 trillion over the next decade, nearly doubling projected deficits over that period unless dramatic spending cuts are made.

So intones WaPo staff writer Lori Montgomery in what is not presented as an opinion piece. Revised headline: Beltway Reporter Uncovers Hypocrisy Among Politicians.

We hear this kind of thing all the time: Rs hammer Ds on raising taxes, but Rs won't cut spending.

We will leave aside the historically demonstrated dynamic nature of tax cuts, as illustrated in the fabled and derided Laffer Curve. Instead, we will say to critics of the GOP, "True enough!"

But many of us who favor Rs do not do so because we imagine them angels. We do so because the other alternative is so much worse. Witness the fabulous rise in federal spending as a percentage of GDP and of federal debt as a percentage of GDP as we've had the party of Jackson in charge of late.

And we've seen it lately. Rs in charge may cut taxes and not reduce spending, but Ds in charge raise taxes fast and raise spending still faster. Given our electorates inability to do anything except vote themselves more goodies, we'll take those whose proffered goodies are relatively less spendthrift because they start with limited tax revenue.

Pre-emptively we repeat: Bush spent more than he took in, Reagan spent more than he took in, but Obama makes them look like amateurs. And don't tell us about Clintonian virtues: that brief moment in fiscal history was forced by a deal with midterm-empowered Rs and facilitated by the peace dividend and tech revolution of the 1990s, not by principled politicians.

So until the Ideal Political Party arises, we find it better to have some restraint on government spending from deliberately limited revenue.

By the way, we find Montgomery's use of "deprive" to be especially artful. Poor, deprived Federal Government, begging for a handout like a Dickensian orphan!

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