Exposing the right’s deficit sham

EXPOSING THE RIGHT’S DEFICIT SHAM…. We talked last week about a trend that’s hard to overlook: every time Democrats push legislation that lowers the deficit, Republican lawmakers and their conservative allies oppose it. Given that the right likes to pretend that deficit reduction is a top priority, it seems like there’s a disconnect here.

This morning, Matt Yglesias goes further, trying to make it painfully obvious that, nonsensical rhetoric notwithstanding, conservatives really don’t care about deficit reduction. Here’s the easy-to-understand, five-point indictment:

1) There have been two presidents who were members of the modern conservative movement, Ronald Reagan and George W Bush, and they both presided over massive increases in both present and projected deficits.

2) The major deficit reduction packages of the modern era, in 1990 and 1993, were both uniformly opposed by the conservative movement.

3) When the deficit was temporarily eliminated in the late-1990s, the mainstream conservative view was that this showed that the deficit was too low and needed to be increased via large tax cuts.

4) Senator Mitch McConnell says it’s a uniform view in his caucus that tax cuts needn’t be offset by other changes in spending.

5) The deficit reduction commission is having trouble because they think conservative politicians won’t vote for any form of tax increase.

I’m trying to imagine what the conservative response might be to this — and I’ll look forward to seeing what they come up with — but when looking for any evidence at all that the right is serious about deficit reduction, literally nothing comes to mind.

I’d add, by the way, that conservatives really only pretend to care when they’re not in power. Before becoming president, Reagan said deficit reduction would a top priority. In office, that commitment was quickly cast aside. Before the 2000 race, Bush said a balanced budget was critically important to him. He then became the single most fiscally irresponsible president in American history.

Now that the right is out of power again, they look back with surprise. Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) recently conceded when Republicans controlled the levers of power, “it was standard practice not to pay for things.” But if voters give them another chance, this time will be different. Sure. Of course it will — right after Republicans get those hundreds of billions of dollars in tax cuts for the rich secure for another decade.

The key here isn’t just to point out GOP hypocrisy and record of abject failure, it’s to remind the political world to stop buying into the nonsense. The conventional wisdom still, even now, accepts the notion that conservatives care about deficit reduction. They don’t. They care about tax cuts, regardless of the fiscal consequences.

Fool me once, shame on you*. Fool me on a nearly daily basis over the course of several decades….

* fixed