Sunday, September 26, 2010

Robinson, Krugman: GOP's "Pledge To America" Doesn't Add Up

Eugene Robinson and Paul Krugman agree about the Republicans' midterm election agenda, the "Pledge to America": the numbers do not add up. The GOP's call for cutting the deficit and making the Bush tax cuts permanent–including extending the cuts for the wealthy–is nonsensical. Robinson (left) makes this point in "The GOP's Hooey to America":

...Perhaps the biggest [measure that would make the deficit grow] is not just extending the tax cuts, but making them permanent. Over the next decade, this measure would add an estimated $4 trillion to the deficit. The Republicans' notion that cutting the federal budget will somehow make up the difference is laughable. The pledge exempts defense, entitlements and debt service -- the biggest components of the federal budget -- and focuses on "discretionary" spending, which Republicans would cut by "at least $100 billion in the first year alone." Yeah, right.

Sucking that much money out of discretionary programs would require draconian cuts in programs, such as education grants, that both red states and blue states have come to depend on. It won't happen. And even if it did, the impact on the deficit would pale in comparison to that of the tax cuts.

Krugman (left) also focuses on the Republicans' math problems in "Downhill With the G.O.P":

On Thursday, House Republicans released their “Pledge to America,” supposedly outlining their policy agenda. In essence, what they say is, “Deficits are a terrible thing. Let’s make them much bigger.” The document repeatedly condemns federal debt — 16 times, by my count. But the main substantive policy proposal is to make the Bush tax cuts permanent, which independent estimates say would add about $3.7 trillion to the debt over the next decade — about $700 billion more than the Obama administration’s tax proposals.

True, the document talks about the need to cut spending. But as far as I can see, there’s only one specific cut proposed — canceling the rest of the Troubled Asset Relief Program, which Republicans claim (implausibly) would save $16 billion. That’s less than half of 1 percent of the budget cost of those tax cuts. As for the rest, everything must be cut, in ways not specified — “except for common-sense exceptions for seniors, veterans, and our troops.” In other words, Social Security, Medicare and the defense budget are off-limits.

So what’s left? Howard Gleckman of the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center has done the math. As he points out, the only way to balance the budget by 2020, while simultaneously (a) making the Bush tax cuts permanent and (b) protecting all the programs Republicans say they won’t cut, is to completely abolish the rest of the federal government: “No more national parks, no more Small Business Administration loans, no more export subsidies, no more N.I.H. No more Medicaid (one-third of its budget pays for long-term care for our parents and others with disabilities). No more child health or child nutrition programs. No more highway construction. No more homeland security. Oh, and no more Congress.”

No comments: