Saturday, December 14, 2013

Always Something There to Remind You: Republicans Don't Care About Deficits

Just as the wonderful musings of Krugman, Klein, and Chait guided us to a final understanding that Republicans were never interested in healthcare reform and have proven it not just during the Obama Derangement Syndrome years but all the way back to the early Clinton years, it's helpful to keep in mind that those same Republicans don't really care about deficits.

A really good look at deficits tell us a pretty clear story:

In the above graph, it's clear -- as everyone has known for years -- that Saint Ronnie blew up the national debt, Bush I kept it growing, and Bush II took over where Reagan and Dad left off. Obama inherited deficits and didn't grow them. In fact, they've been falling as the economy has improved.

Reagan grew the national debt with defense spending and tax cuts. Bush I maintained the Reagan Era policies until he agreed to raise taxes. Ba-bye, Bush I. Clinton went further, lowered defense spending and raised taxes again. Ba-bye deficits. Bush II raised defense spending and really cut taxes. Welcome back, deficits.

As a side note, Bush II also grew the deficit with Medicare Part D, which, while not being as costly as it originally looked to be, is actually a giveaway to the drug companies because it prohibited negotiating for lower prices. Who locks in higher prices? The supposed free-market party?

Side side note: When the Democrats had total control of both houses of Congress and the White House in 2009-2010, they didn't alter Medicare Part D to allow negotiated prices. Go figure.

Back to the graphs. Here's one that looks at per capita change in national debt:

There you have it.

Why, then, are the Republicans always raging about deficits but never doing anything when they're in charge? It's because they never cared about deficits. Remember Cheney's famous "Reagan proved that deficits don't matter" remark? No, the current Republican Party only puts up deficits as a prop for attacking social safety-net programs.

They want to kill off the New Deal and the Great Society. Death to Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.

They haven't done it yet. And also don't forget: The Republican Party hates Obamacare because it might succeed. And if it does, it solves a bit of the Medicare long-term funding problem and also locks in Medicaid expansion, which will be hard to unwind if it's the mechanism for actually solving the uninsured problem.

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