Spending Cuts Are Real

Josh BarroTwo days ago, I reported on Ezra Klein’s contention that Republicans think that they lose out in budget deals because the tax increases are real but the spending cuts are not. This is curious, because the evidence indicates exactly the opposite. For example, President Clinton and the other Democrats managed to do the painful work of raising taxes and cutting spending. This along with a great economy created budget surpluses. And as soon as the Republicans were back in power, they passed budget busting tax cuts.

But there’s more to this. Just think about it. What would be harder to get Congress to do: lower tax rates or increase spending on Medicare? Now, I know that the Republicans created a great big new Medicare benefit. But there are three things to remember. First, that was after two big tax cuts. Second, the program was not paid for. Third, the program was more a giveaway to the pharmaceutical companies than a benefit for the elderly.

Anyway, Josh Barro takes his fellow conservatives to task on this issue. He notes that Ryan Ellis of organized fucktards Americans for Tax Reform makes this case when discussing Bush Sr’s Budget Enforcement Act of 1990. Ellis says:

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projected before the deal that 1991–1995 spending would total $7.07 trillion. In fact, total spending for this period was $7.09 trillion. In other words, in return for agreeing to tax hikes, Republicans got $22 billion in extra spending rather than the promised $274 billion in cuts.

Barro is so upset by this quote that he launches the e-bomb, “This is false!” For someone as studiedly cool as Barro, ending a sentence with an exclamation mark means something! (For me, it means nothing at all!)

He goes on to point out that Ellis is using an earlier projection from almost a year before the bill was passed. In the mean time, things had changed. In particular, the cost of the Savings &amp Loan bailout greatly increased. It turns out that we got almost exactly the spending cuts that were agreed to.

Barro is great at cutting through the conservative nonsense. And that’s why I so often write about him, even though we disagree about most policy. He ends the article by allowing for what he most likely believes (taxes are bad), but calling foul on the misrepresentation:

You don’t have to like the outcome of the Budget Enforcement Act of 1990, particularly if your primary concern is keeping taxes low. But you can’t argue that its promised spending cuts didn’t materialize…

Update (6 Dec 2019)

One thing I didn’t mention here is that this also doesn’t take into account the fact that the population of the country continues to increase. So it makes sense that the size of the federal government should increase. (Just think about the IRS: it should require more people to process tax returns.) The argument made by Ryan Ellis is disingenuous.

As far as I know, Barro is now a Democrat. That shows just how ridiculous American politics is. Barro does fit well inside the Democratic coalition. But that shouldn’t be the case for the left’s political party. As I’ve noted before, the Republicans becoming unglued is the result of the Democratic Party’s constant push rightward from the mid-1970s onward. Barro’s a fine guy but he should not be in the Democratic Party. The Democratic Party needs to be further to the left than that if this country stands a chance in the future.

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

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