Friday, February 13, 2009

Just for reference sake...

There has been some major Republican flak headed towards the stimulus bill for it's effect on the federal debt. The $800 billion stimulus (give or take) is a combination of tax cuts and spending that does not contain within it any inkling of how it will be paid for in the long run (that's for Abby, Maddie, and the rest of the under-10 set to figure out).

If you'll recall, in 2001, just after a new president had taken office, we were in a recession as well. This one was, compared to the current recession, almost laughably small. The newly elected President, with his party in control of both houses of Congress, decided to help out all the little people during that downturn.  You might remember it as the first of Bush's tax cut bills.  The total cost of that tax cut in 2001 during a marginally troublesome recession?  $1.35 trillion.  That is not the cost in lost tax revenue calculated by looking backwards, that was the announced, known, and voted on size of the tax cut.  See here

So just to be clear - the current Republican minority in Congress is objecting to the current stimulus bill of $800 billion because of the effect that it will have on the national debt, which is currently $1.35 trillion dollars larger than it might have been without their own actions of 2001.   Oh, let's not forget the subsequent Bush tax cuts in 2003 that lowered tax revenue another $350 billion, for a sum total of $1.7 trillion in tax cuts. 

(And don't. Do not. Do not even begin to form the sentence "but tax cuts pay for themselves by increasing the growth rate".  Put down your Arthur Laffer coffee mug, your X-files "I believe" t-shirt, your honest-to-goodness picture of the Loch Ness monster, and take a deep breath.  Now. You are an idiot. It's okay, lot's of people are idiots. We'll get through this. Say this with me: "Lower taxes mean bigger deficits." Good job!  If you can do it by yourself, I'll give you some M&M's, just like we reward Madeline for pooping in the potty by herself.)

To recap, the Republican economic manifesto:
a) during mild recessions, cut taxes by $1.35 trillion regardless of the effect on the federal debt in order to help out working families
b) during severe recessions that have within them the danger of deflationary spirals, resist all attempts to stimulate economy by arguing that $800 billion is a ridiculous amount to add to national debt

Again, the moment someone informs me that the Republican party has become a party of sane, skeptical, conservatives concerned with personal liberty and smart government, I'm back in.  For now I am forced to put my faith in the idea that Barack Obama can keep Diane Feinstein and Chuck Rangel from going batshit insane.

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