Snowe diagnoses ‘the problem’

Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine), arguably Congress’ most moderate Republican, issued a statement this week in response to President Obama’s debt-reduction agenda. She has some concerns.

“Clearly, spending is the problem, so why would more taxes be the solution? We cannot ask the American people to pay more than they already do in order to paper-over the debt problems that Congress created; it is up to us to fix the spending problem, not retroactively justify it by making people pay increased taxes.”

As a substantive matter, as Jamison Foser noted, Snowe’s analysis just doesn’t make any sense. To believe “spending is the problem” is to ignore all of the available evidence.

But reading Snowe’s statement also reminded me what a shame it is that Snowe is what passes for “moderation” in Republican politics in 2011. Given the larger landscape, there’s room for genuine GOP centrists — in, say, the Mark Hatfield or Lowell Weicker mold — to have a significant impact. Real Republican moderates, if they existed, would not only generate considerable attention, but could potentially have an instrumental role in shaping policy.

But that’s not an option. The best of the best — relatively speaking, of course — is Olympia Snowe, who’s somehow been convinced, the year before running in a Republican primary, that “spending is the problem.”

As Foser added, “If Olympia Snowe had supported a significantly larger stimulus package in 2009, the economy might not be in such lousy shape, and millions more Americans might have jobs. And now Snowe is peddling the same falsehoods as the rest of her party, in support of the same shortsighted and cruel austerity measures that have kept the economy weak.”

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Steve Benen

Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.