Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Does this count as analysis?

Alex Castellanos wrote this brilliant piece, which reads like John Boehner's talking points. I particularly love how he blames Obama for an earmark-filled bill. Of those 9000 earmarks, yes, many were Democratic earmarks, and those are Bad. How many were stuck on that bill by Republican congressmen? A quick glance shows $2.6bn from Democrats, $1.8bn from Republicans, and $3.1bn that are either anonymous or bipartisan. Hey, finally found some common ground between the Dems and the GOP; earmarks!

In the same paragraph, he complains about the deficit and debt and follows that by criticizing the rollback of President Bush's tax cuts for the wealthy. I'm not sure how he can stand the cognitive dissonance of that without his head exploding. Actually, I think I do know. The Republican "alternative budget" calls for a cut to 25% in the tax rate for the highest tax bracket. Since no serious economist believes that tax cuts pay for themselves, I have a hard time believing their math about reducing the deficit. Oh, right, they call for a spending freeze on everything but the DoD. So, have fun with shrinking Social Security and Medicare/Medicaid payments. You know that crumbling road or bridge? Yeah, not getting fixed. See, they also rolled back much of the stimulus.

This is not to say that I'm an apologist for the Democratic budget. I think deficits are too high. However, I don't see the alternative as a symbolic spending freeze that won't work and tax cuts that will make it worse. I see the alternative as cap-and-trade on carbon emissions (billions and billions of revenue plus stimulating innovation and helping the environment), higher taxes across the mid and upper levels of income, including estate and capital gains taxes, and intelligent spending cuts for programs that are outdated or don't work. Right now, though, this recession takes precedence. Gotta get through that, then deal with deficits. And I think that's what Mr. Obama is doing.

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