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Republicans Not Even Pretending to be Fiscally Conservative Anymore

By John Martin - Posted on 26 February 2012

According to a recent report by the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, only one remaining Republican presidential candidate (Ron Paul) has proposed policies that would actually reduce the national debt. The rest have made promises that would put us even deeper in the hole.

Of the three, Romney is the least-bad, adding $250 billion to the debt over the next 10 years. During the campaign, Mitt has proposed transforming Medicaid into block grants to the states. He's also proposed cutting the federal workforce and reducing discretionary spending by hundreds of billions of dollars. Taken together, CRFB estimates this would cut the debt by $1.2 trillion over ten years.

However, because Romney would eliminate the estate tax and taxes on investment income, and would reduce corporate taxes, all the savings he would squeeze out of the poor and the middle class would stay in the pockets of the well-off instead of going to the treasury for debt reduction. The result is more debt, from a guy who's trying to paint himself as a budget hawk.

As bad as Romney's plans are, though, Newt's and Santorum's are far worse. They'd put even larger, even more irresponsible tax cuts into place, and would pay for them with far deeper cuts to Medicare, Social Security, education and other discretionary programs. The end result would be approximately $4.5 trillion in additional debt resulting from Santorum's plans, and $7 trillion in additional debt resulting from Gingrich's.

If you're going to beat up on people who are struggling in this economy, that's one thing, but don't make things worse for tomorrow's taxpayers on top of that. If you're still pushing for billions in additional tax cuts for those who don't need them, you're not only not a fiscal conservative, you're guaranteeing that our children and grandchildren will be paying even more for our mistakes.

There's no need to pretend to be fiscally conservative... we seem to be real good at picking on the low hanging fruit, social programs. Somehow this brings a big hooray from conservatives, mostly in red states that get more in federal funds than they contribute and then we move on to the fruit that's fallen off the tree, to prep gift baskets of tax cuts for those who pay little to no taxes. Somehow none of this ever contributes to the deficit when tax cuts are included.

Actually.....They've NEVER been fiscally conservative.

They used to be... but it was just a very very long time ago. A ton of Republicans voted against the "Kennedy" tax cuts back in '64. In '82 and about 100 Republicans helped roll back the '81 tax cuts, becuase deficits were getting out of control. 

I'm trying to figure out what happened to us, as a party.  Compassionate Conservatism is dead, and today's candidates (indeed, the party as a whole) are cremating the remains.

In Detroit, Romney promised "an across-the-board, 20% reduction in marginal individual income tax rates".  More cuts are hardly what we need right now.  The Bush cuts resulted in deficit spending, which resulted in a huge debt.  Why is that simple equation so hard for them to see? 

Fiscal conservatism to me means smart and efficient government, not less and less income.  We are slowing killing our middle class at the expense of ever higher incomes for the upper echelon and corporations.  A country cannot survive like this.  We just can't. 

Thanks for posting this, John. 

Here's the bothersome thing, however: the implanted message that Dems spend / Reps are financially conservative is still alive and well (and flames are fanned daily by Fox News, et. al).  It exists in the minds of voters who are too lazy to research for themselves whether it's true or not.  The political dogma is entrenched. 

Well, it's the job of Democrats to change the narrative and teach the truth. I fault them for a constant messaging problem which allows the Republican candidates to get away with this nonsense. We still have people confused on health care reform and how repealing it would ADD to the deficit! They need a better marketing team for Democrats, no question. But it does help that the Republicans continue to shoot themselves in the foot with the clowns they showcase as presidential candidates. Romney's big tax cut speech (overshadowed by an empty venue) did not mention how he would pay for it and the media was too lazy to ask (non-probing media huge problem, too.)

If it falls on the Democrats to organize any message then I won't hold my breath for change.

The mantra of "lower taxes" is not a winning theme.  It works when marginal

rates are higher but at the moment that is simply not the case.  Corporations

averaged a 12.5% tax rate.  Reform to simplify the code is MANDATORY but both

Romney and Obama would add more complexity to favor special interests.  It's

been painful to listen to all of the rhetoric.  With 50% not paying any income tax,

a 20% reduction in rates is not just meaningless but plays directly into Obama's

theme of inequality.   The single thing that could easily rein in wasteful spending is

never mentioned - repeal BASELINE budgeting.   The  idiocy of compounding

expenses by 8% a year can not be exaggerated.  At 8% costs will necessarily

double every 9 years!   Why would any government agency  aspire to efficiency

when it is guaranteed an 8% increase in funding?  I don't know who has been

advising the candidates, but they need to be fired for coming out with the same

lunacy already in effect. 

Link from TPM. Hmmm-maybe the Democrats have something up their sleeve. Looks like Hoyer is preparing a major deficit reduction package and ignoring the common assumption that nothing can get done before the election on the huge issue of deficit reduction. Not sure this has President Obama's blessing or even what exactly will be in the package (although seems to be spun as a mix of spending and tax revenue.) I am not optimistic since so many Republicans won't even look at a plan that raises one penny on the rich and heaven forbid they act in a bipartisan way or do anything to further lift up the President's accomplishments. But if nothing else, this could illustrate once again-in BOLD LETTERS which "team" is actually concerned about the deficit and the future of this country. I know alot of people praise the Simpson-Bowles plan but personally I thought it was too hard on the poor and middle class and not enough sacrifice from the top 1%. Maybe this will be a better alternative??

House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD) is looking to shake legislative politics out of unconsciousness as early as this spring, and force a vote on a bipartisan legislative proposal - which would include higher taxes and cuts to federal programs — to reduce deficits by trillions of dollars over the coming years.

The push is intended to disrupt the consensus among most political leaders that Congress will punt budget consolidation efforts until after November — when the election returns are in, and the January 1, 2013 expiry of the Bush tax cuts and deep across-the-board spending cuts make real action inevitable.

In a speech hosted Monday morning by Third Way, Hoyer revealed that he and other lawmakers are looking for the right moment to introduce a bill that would achieve the sorts of deficit reduction goals that have eluded Congress and the White House thus far.

“Members of both parties, and on both sides of the Capitol, are working to ensure that the next time we find ourselves at an impasse — which could be sooner, rather than later — we will be ready, with a legislative package in hand to address our debt and deficit in a comprehensive, long-term way,” Hoyer said.

Hoyer declined to discuss the specifics of this bill, but suggested it would deal with spending and tax policies of all kinds. He and his colleagues face one key problem: there’s a lot of white space on the legislative calendar this year, and that means they’ll have a hard time leveraging unwilling members into action.

If, however, he can get members of both parties to vote in significant numbers for this bill — including broad Republican support for higher taxes — it would have significant implications for both Congressional elections, and the ultimate policy direction the government takes when it ultimately does lock in a deficit reduction plan.

Asked for further details, Hoyer said to look for developments in weeks, not months.

“There is ongoing work…to put concrete proposals to paper in legislative form, so that as I said there will be an opportunity to offer those proposals,” Hoyer said. “Obviously you want to create a large consensus for that before you offer it so that its defeat is, if defeated, temporary only and not undermining of what the objective is, and that is getting a big, bold, balanced plan adopted.”

Hoyer went on, “There is work ongoing and I expect that work to be largely completed before the budget is offered.”

This is a great piece, Izzy.  I'm going to share it, and your words, on our FB page.  Thanks!

This is a pleasant surprise. Maybe if current members could believe that passing something big could get congress's approval numbers up, enough might be willing to support it.

Thanks, Suzi. And yes, maybe this Congress will respond to public pressure to get something major done as a way to save face. If 10% approval numbers can't push Congress to do their jobs, I'm not sure what will.

Not much chance for broad GOP support. Remember, Grover Norquist is still watching. And we all know the Norquist pledge supercedes anything else... even reducing the national debt.

The ONLY reasons why I see a glimmer of hope is because a handful of Republicans have come out recently denouncing the Gover Norquist pledges they've signed (in addition to the 5-6 Republicans who never signed it in the first place). The main obstacle is getting Boehner on board, which might not be impossible. Last summer, it appeared that he was looking to cut a deal with Obama, provided it skewed heavily in favor of cuts and contained a proportionally smaller number of tax increases. 


I don't know whether these "handful" of GOP legislators are in the House, the Senate, or split between the two (I suspect that would be the more reasonable assumption). But because of its own arcane rules, it's almost impossible to get anything through the Senate (assuming it could muster enough votes to get pass the house). I don't think even Boehner (or Boner as Suzi calls him) is going to risk going toe-to-toe with all the tea party types elected to the house in 2010. So the tea party types in the house would never go against Norquist, and it would be almost impossible to secure 60 votes in the Senate.

There's two reasons why I don't think such legislation would have a chance in today's political climate.

Your post highlights what a horrible Speaker John Boehner is. No wonder he cries so much-he must understand that fact. Seriously? He can't show any leadership against the Tea Party? That man is afraid of his own shadow. History will not remember him well. Pelosi may just get that gavel back if Speaker Boehner continues to fail in such obvious, embarrassing ways. At least she has a reputation as having a backbone.

Put it simply MOST Republican politicians ARE NOT TEAM PLAYERS!!! They are rich so why not give themselves and their rich pals tax breaks, it gets them the votes of the rich and puts more money in THEIR pockets. Plus they get to keep the underclassed...well underclassed and get to stick it to the Democrats and more liberal Republicans. It's win-win, "FOR THEM". And as for Democrats actually educating the public about their policies and spending is only going to be sabotaged by HATERS in politics, religion and so on. Look at what happened with B.P. Republicans are usually "DRILL BABY DRILL" (no matter where it is) but when Obama was actually on board with drilling for more oil they suddenly got all "Oh it's dangerous.", "It'll hurt the enviroment." Three days after Obama assured it would be safe the "incident" happened and Republicans were all to happy. I honestly don't think it was a coincedence. Anything Obama is for the Republicans are almost always against and they will actually make up legislation to punish the American people when they don't get their way. Which is why the economy is going stagnant again. The Republican party is full of overgrown, overdressed toddlers that throw tantrums that affect the poor and middle class, so that those people feel the pressure and cry out to their politicians to save them. The Rebublicans can't let Obama have a win because he's actually fighting for the little guys and if he wins the rich have to pay their fair share which means rich Republican politicians to. The Republicans have no limit to how low they'll sink to get their way.

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