Which Party Cares More About Deficits?
Jonathan Chait points out, correctly, that the politics of the past 20 years has been a politics in which it is clear that the Democrats care much more about the deficit, and take many more steps to decrease it, than Republicans do. Here’s a snippet:
The story begins in 1990, when George H.W. Bush decided to compromise with Democrats in Congress and sign a major deficit reduction law. The deal contained significant cuts in spending, along with a small hike in the top tax bracket, and pay as you go budget rules requiring that any entitlement increases or tax cuts have offsets to make them deficit-neutral. Conservatives revolted, voting en masse against the deal — just 10 House Republicans supported it — despite a full-court lobbying effort by Bush. The deal is still remembered as a betrayal by Bush and the prototypical example of how a GOP president should not govern. Every major adviser associated with the deal from Bush’s side has since been purged from the party.
Once Republican George W. Bush took office, Clinton’s veto was gone, and Republicans immediately began dismantling the bulwarks of fiscal conservatism. They ended the pay as you go budget rule, and passed a series of large tax cuts. They also passed a Medicare prescription drug benefit, also unpaid-for, and major military and homeland security spending increases. Much of the criticism over the enactment of these policies, especially the 2001 tax cut, centered around the durability of the surplus, which Democrats called uncertain, and Republicans insisted was bound to continue growing.
To be sure, Democrats are hardly perfect on the fiscally conservative score, but they have actually made efforts. Republicans, on the other hand, talk a big fiscally conservative game, but when it comes time to put their money where thier mouth is…. most of them don’t. And the few that do? They get purged out of the Party.