Thursday, October 28, 2010

Painted Into a Corner

Jonathan Chait nails the Republicans on their self-delusion:

The "endless loop [of failure]" begins with Republicans gaining power on the basis of promising to cut unspecified programs, or perhaps programs accounting for a tiny proportion of the federal budget. That is the stage of the cycle we are currently in. Then Republicans obtain power and have to confront the fact that most spending programs are popular, and so they must choose between destroying their own popularity by taking on programs like Medicare, or failing to materially cut spending. So they settle on tax cuts instead of spending cuts. Then eventually their supporters conclude that they have been betrayed by their leaders, and cast about for new leaders with the willpower to really cut spending this time.

As I've been saying over and over, there is a way around this. Republicans can make a bipartisan deal and obtain Democratic cover for cuts in popular spending programs. But the price of this deal is to impose shared sacrifice on the rich and violate the fundamental republican taboo against ever allowing revenue increases. Since the party cannot violate that taboo, it's back to the cycle of failure, recrimination, and
self-delusion. Right now, conservatives are in the hopeful self-delusion phase. Look, these new leaders have learned their lesson! They sound serious!

Exactly. I can't find a single Republican who can articulate a solid vision for righting our listing fiscal ship. Anytime they propose spending cuts, they paint themselves into a corner because they can't touch very popular entitlement programs without sacrificing themselves. They can't increase taxes because their rich supporters would draw and quarter them. And they can't compromise with Democrats to give themselves the political cover against backlash from their supporters because they have promised not to compromise with tax and spend liberals. They are trapped in their own twisted ideas of what fiscal responsibility looks like. So they pay lip service to the idea of limited government while pigging out at the trough of earmarks, defense contracts, infrastructure projects, and corporate welfare.

A good friend and Uh, Yeah Right reader believes that this is what the corporations who essentially run our government want. I completely agree.

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