Economic illiterates

ECONOMIC ILLITERATES…. It hasn’t been an especially good week for the Republican Party and economic literacy. Indeed, with each passing day, it appears the GOP simply has no idea what it’s talking about when it comes to one of the nation’s most pressing issues.

It started with Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) insisting that spending increases need to be paid for, but lawmakers shouldn’t even try to pay for tax cuts. California Senate hopeful Carly Fiorina (R) soon followed, declaring, “You don’t need to pay for tax cuts. They pay for themselves.” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) soon added that Bush’s tax cuts, which created huge deficits, actually “increased revenue.” Sen. Judd Gregg (R-N.H.) agreed that “tax cuts should not have to be offset.”

Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) appeared on C-SPAN yesterday and managed to sound even dumber.

“Continuing the [Bush] tax cuts isn’t a cost, if you added new taxes, new tax cuts, I would agree that’s a cost. It’s not a cost. That’s where we are today. That’s the baseline. It doesn’t score anything to continue them. It costs money if we increase, which I would be willing to do. I think we ought to cut corporate taxes.”

This makes absolutely no sense. Bush’s tax cuts for the wealthy were approved nearly a decade ago, and they helped add $5 trillion to the debt. They’re now due to expire. If policymakers extend the cuts into the future, Coburn thinks it would cost literally nothing. He’s only off by at least $678 billion.

This week’s developments have made abundantly clear that conservative Republicans don’t care at all about reducing the deficit, but that’s really just the beginning of the larger revelation here. By embracing economic gibberish with such enthusiasm, Republicans are also making it painfully obvious that they don’t care about reality, either.

Krugman’s label — “invincible ignorance” — continues to ring true.