McConnell’s misguided monetary mendacity

MCCONNELL’S MISGUIDED MONETARY MENDACITY…. Occasionally, I try to wrap my head around what it is, exactly, what makes Republicans so angry with President Obama. I’m afraid, in most instances, the rage just doesn’t seem to make much sense to me.

Here’s a great example from Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), trying to explain why he’s vehemently opposed to allowing top tax rates for the wealthy to expire on schedule, based on the policy that McConnell himself helped create.

“Democrats spent the last two years putting government in charge of health care, the financial sector, car companies, insurance companies, student loans — you name it,” Mr. McConnell said in his speech, as the Senate resumed work after a five-week recess. “Now they want the tax hike to pay for it all.”

Note, right off the bat, the evolving explanation to justify the tax-policy opposition. First it was about small businesses. When that talking point was exposed as misleading, Republicans said Clinton-era top rates for the wealthy would undermine economic growth. When that was debunked, too, they moved on to saying the higher rates are a scheme to pay for “big government.”

When rationales bounce from weak talking point to weak talking point, it’s evidence of an underlying argument with very little credibility.

More importantly, McConnell’s two sentences are effectively gibberish. As he sees it, the Democratic agenda has been expensive, so Democrats necessarily want to let top rates expire on time “to pay for it all.”

But that doesn’t make any sense, not only because the expiration was Republicans’ idea several years ago, but because the Democratic agenda McConnell is whining about doesn’t need a tax hike for financing.

I had the same reaction to this as Jon Chait, who goes point by point through McConnell’s litany of complaints. Why, for example, would Democrats need to raise the top income tax rate to pay for health care reform, when the Affordable Care Act pays for itself (and lowers the deficit over the next 20 years by more than a trillion dollars)? The same goes for Wall Street reform, which doesn’t add to the deficit at all. Rescuing the automotive industry, I’ll concede, wasn’t cheap, but manufacturers are paying back the money, and the Obama policy has been an unqualified success, Republican apoplexy notwithstanding.

I’m not sure what McConnell meant by “insurance companies,” but if he’s complaining about health care again, that’s just repetitious whining in the same sentence. As for student loans, I realize Republicans loved the idea of needlessly giving money to banks that could instead go to students, but once again, making the system more streamlined and efficient doesn’t increase the deficit — it does the opposite.

In other words, given a chance to take his best shot at Democratic fiscal mismanagement, Mitch McConnell’s best examples are utterly wrong. Indeed, his case is evidence that proves the opposite point — it makes the Democratic agenda appear fiscally sound and sensible.

Does McConnell not understand the words coming out of his mouth, or does he just assume his audience is made up of fools?