LOSING THEIR BRAINS
Michael Kinsley challenges Republican hypocrisy on balanced budgets, noting that one of the biggies in the 1994 Contract with America was the promise of a balanced budget amendment. He’s right to point out that the Republicans have given up a rather fundamental tenant of their core platform, but rather disengenous when he throws in this kind of nonsense:
Republicans aren’t the only source of such fun. There is a limited amount of hilarity to be had from watching formerly or even currently wastrel Democrats as they try on the preachers’ robes of frugality. But Bill Clinton pretty much ruined that joke by actually balancing the budget (OK, OK, with some help from those congressional Republicans, along with considerable hindrance and near-universal predictions of disaster).
While appearing to be fair minded–see I’m saying the Democrats are hypocrites, too!–he sneaks in the lie that Clinton balanced the budget. The passive voice is definitely in order here: Yes, the budget was balanced while Clinton was in office. No, he didn’t do it. Nor, by the way, did Republican fiscal restraint. No, the Internet bubble did that for us. Its bursting is why we now have deficits again.
Further, the lesson of that bubble is that the best thing the government can do for the economy is to get out of the way. Even a couple trillion dollars (the entire federal budget) is a small chunk of change when you have a GDP over ten trillion. Bush’s tax cuts haven’t caused the current deficit, nor will the next round of cuts turn it around. Once the economy gets humming again, we’ll grow our way out of debt, assuming we don’t increase spending faster than we can bring in revenues.