Are Republicans Serious About Their "Pledge to America"?
(The New American) -- by Michael Tennant --
...As a Democrat partisan, [New York Times columnist Paul] Krugman naturally claims that the Republicans are making “nonsensical promises” while the Democrats are being sober and responsible in their public pronouncements. When the Obama administration forecasts impossibly low spending and deficits far into the future despite ever-increasing spending (including ObamaCare), its projections are merely “somewhat too optimistic” and “a matter of technical details,” according to the columnist. On the other hand, he avers, Republicans are making “war on arithmetic” by promising lower deficits in the future without specifying what programs they will cut to achieve this objective. As a result, he says, if the GOP takes Congress in November, “Banana republic, here we come.”
In truth, we’re probably headed down that path no matter which party is in control come January. Krugman is correct that Republicans are mathematically challenged; it’s his inability to recognize that Democrats suffer from the same disability that makes reading his column so frustrating.
The subject of Krugman’s piece is the Republicans’ “Pledge to America,” released on Sept. 23. He writes, “In essence, what they say is, ‘Deficits are a terrible thing. Let’s make them much bigger.’” By that he means that while Republicans complain repeatedly about federal debt in their document, their only “substantive policy proposal is to make the Bush tax cuts permanent,” thus supposedly reducing federal revenue, while simultaneously proposing next to no specific spending reductions. Krugman explains:
"True, the document talks about the need to cut spending. But as far as I can see, there’s only one specific cut proposed — canceling the rest of the Troubled Asset Relief Program, which Republicans claim (implausibly) would save $16 billion. That’s less than half of 1 percent of the budget cost of those tax cuts. As for the rest, everything must be cut, in ways not specified — “except for common-sense exceptions for seniors, veterans, and our troops.” In other words, Social Security, Medicare and the defense budget are off-limits."
Regardless of Krugman’s partisan pedigree, these are reasonable criticisms. The GOP has essentially declared the overwhelming majority of the federal budget, including the two largest and most unsustainable entitlement programs, immune from its supposed full frontal assault on out-of-control spending.
The New Republic’s Ed Kilgore, too, spots the inconsistency between Republicans’ conservative rhetoric and the reality of their Pledge. The document, says Kilgore, highlights the gap between grassroots, Tea Party-type activists, who seem to want genuine federal retrenchment, and the GOP leadership, which just wants to be in charge of the spending spree...
In fact, Kilgore adds, the House Republicans’ commitment to fiscal responsibility is so anemic that the Pledge “fails to promise a balanced federal budget, or even the hoary symbolic demand for a balanced budget constitutional amendment.”...
Krugman’s assertion that the GOP isn’t serious about cutting government is, therefore, on the mark. Why, then, does he fear that the party, if given power, will implement “its real, not-so-secret agenda, which mainly involves privatizing and dismantling Medicare and Social Security”? Where does Krugman even get the idea that most Republican politicians want to do such things? Ron Paul is probably the only person in Washington who is serious about eliminating these programs, and even he has stated that he would do so gradually. George W. Bush’s so-called Social Security privatization plan was never much more than a campaign gimmick and would, in any event, have done little to reduce the program’s long-term liability.
In the end, Krugman recognizes that even if the GOP does have some hidden slash-and-burn agenda, it didn’t implement it the last time it was in power; in fact, it did just the opposite. “So,” he writes, “the clear and present danger isn’t that the G.O.P. will be able to achieve its long-run goals. It is, rather, that Republicans will gain just enough power to make the country ungovernable, unable to address its fiscal problems or anything else in a serious way.” In other words, Krugman worries that those foolish, unserious Republicans will get in the way of the super-intelligent, highly responsible Obama and his agenda — the one that is already shattering Bush’s deficit records. We can only hope that he isn’t fretting over nothing...MORE...LINK