Foregoing the pretense of fiscal restraint

FOREGOING THE PRETENSE OF FISCAL RESTRAINT…. Republicans’ selective, intermittent passion related to deficit reduction is a sight to behold. When the GOP was in the majority, they decided “deficits don’t matter” and it was “standard practice” for Republicans “not to pay for things.” The GOP, as a consequence, turned a big surplus into a massive deficit and added $5 trillion to the debt in eight years.

In 2009, they changed their minds. Deficit reduction, the GOP concluded, was paramount — even taking precedence over economic growth and job creation.

But in 2010, with Republicans poised to possibly win back Congress, wouldn’t you know it, the deficit, once again, doesn’t really matter. In their “Pledge to America,” House Republicans only use the word “deficit” four times in 21 pages, and three of four were criticisms of the Obama administration. The fourth was a vow: “[W]e will … bring down the deficit.”

No, actually, they won’t.

Andrew Sullivan called the agenda “the most fiscally irresponsible document ever offered by the GOP” and “an act of vandalism against the fiscal balance” of the country. If you think that sounds hyperbolic, that probably means you haven’t read the document.

As we talked about earlier, Republicans have decided to push for $4 trillion in tax cuts, which would increase the deficit; push for the repeal of health care reform, which would increase the deficit; and increase spending on missile defense, which would increase the deficit. But we can go even further and consider the fact that “the 21-page ‘Pledge’ omits any mention of a key Republican mantra: a ban on earmarks.”

And what about entitlements?

Addressing a central criticism of the Republicans’ new “Pledge to America,” House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) on Thursday said he doesn’t have the answer to solving Medicare’s spending crisis.

To solve those problems, Boehner said, Congress will first have to initiate “an adult conversation” with voters, who will then decide what fixes to apply.

Here’s a tip for the political world: never try to hold “an adult conversation” with dimwitted hacks who aren’t ready to sit at the big kids’ table.

Just to be clear, I’m not a deficit hawk. If Republicans want to blow it off and focus on economic growth, that’s fine by me. But that’s what makes their proposal such a sham: the GOP claims it will embrace fiscal restraint, then presents a plan to do the opposite, then urges the country to help them lead “an adult conversation.”

There’s something deeply wrong with anyone who falls for this farce.