Friday, September 24, 2010

This just gets harder and harder

Apologies for the light posting schedule these days. Much of the reason for it is that the day job has been a full time one lately. But a lot of it, I'll admit, is a sense of, what's the point? It's not so much the seeming inevitability of stark losses in the midterms. I've come to terms with our modern politics in which Republicans gain power, screw the pooch, Democrats are elected to clean up the ensuing mess, and are then punished for it by our ADD electorate.

No, it really has come down to the realization -- and I don't think I'm naive, but still -- that the modern GOP has no interest whatsoever in public policy beyond acquiring power. In the past, as Krugman writes today, there was at least some theory beyond their crackpot policy prescriptions. Laffer had his curve. Today, there's not so much as an old cocktail napkin against which to argue.

The approach Mr. Boehner set out is based on a belief that smaller government, lower taxes and less regulation will fuel economic growth, create jobs and ultimately lead to a more prosperous nation. It deviated little from the tenets of mainstream conservatism over the last generation.

But even conservative-leaning budget and policy analysts said that the Republican blueprint, as drafted, would lead to bigger, not smaller, deficits and that it did not contain the concrete, politically difficult steps needed to alter the nation’s fiscal trajectory.

In the agenda, Republicans said they would extend all of the Bush-era tax cuts, which would add roughly $4 trillion to the deficit over 10 years. They also proposed a new tax break for small businesses at a cost of $25 billion over the next two years.

And while they called for quickly slashing about $100 billion in “nonsecurity” discretionary spending, they did not specify how those cuts would be carried out. Moreover, experts said such reductions would not change the long-term budgetary picture.

“I wouldn’t call this a deficit reduction plan,” said Robert L. Bixby, executive director of the Concord Coalition, a nonprofit group that advocates fiscal responsibility.

“It’s a net increase in the deficit, because extending all of the tax cuts is a huge hit on the deficit, and they are not making anywhere near the magnitude of the spending cuts you would need to justify extending those tax cuts on a permanent basis.”

Critics noted that the Republican plan pointedly excluded military and other security programs from budget cuts — even though Pentagon spending has soared in recent years — and that the plan even called for added spending on missile defense.

In addition, the House Republicans said that repealing the Democrats’ health care law would be the centerpiece of their agenda. But they also indicated they would retain popular provisions that would probably lead to a big increase in health care costs.

Although the seriousness of the consequences are all too real, it's just not all that interesting coming up with arguments against such unserious politics.

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