10 August 2010

Why are Republicans trying to portray themselves as fiscally responsible?

I don't know why the GOP is trying to portray themselves as models of wisdom, financially speaking. The record certainly doesn't bear them out.  I'm going to simplify everything a hell of a lot, but it's my belief that it reflects the whole picture very well.  The point is this: Republicans have borrowed a huge amount of money to pay for their programs, far more than the Democrats.  We can see this from the graph here, but I'm going to make a table to show specific examples.

Below in my table are a number of major policy initiatives from the past ten years or so.  Some notes about the table:
  • The financing is the important part: how it was paid for.  Deficit spending is spending money we don't have - i.e. it's money we're borrowing from other countries to spend on programs.  I believe it is sometimes necessary, but apparently the GOP thinks it's the worst thing to do.
  • In almost all cases, each program got some votes on the other side of the aisle, but it's not hard to figure out who owned the bill.
  • The timeframe of each bill can be squishy - who knows when the war will end or how many years to count in the cost of an extension of Medicare?  So I took the traditional route of using the ten-year projections.

Bush Tax Cuts2001, 2003Republican$1.8 trillion deficit spending over their ten year span.
Medicare Part D2003Republican$723 billion deficit spending (ten year projection).
Iraq War2003Republican1$845 billion deficit spending (so far; projections to 2017 run to $2.5 trillion or more).
AIDS Relief2003Republican$15 billion deficit spending.
TARP and Auto Bailout2008Bipartisan2$700 billion deficit spending.
Stimulus Bill2009Democrat$787 billion deficit spending.
Healthcare Reform2010DemocratReduces deficit by $143 billion (ten year projection).
HIRE (jobs bill)2010Democrat$17.5 billion deficit spending
1. The invasion of Iraq got the support of more than half of Democrats, but I counted it as a Republican program because it was driven hugely by the Bush administration and their easygoing treatment of the truth about WMDs.
2. I'm being generous and calling it Bipartisan instead of Republican, even though you could make a good case for that.

Now, am I saying I don't like any deficit spending? Not at all. From what I understand, it's often a good thing. I love "AIDS Relief" and I am okay with the "Stimulus." But the sudden amnesia of Republicans about their drunken shopping sprees just cannot stand.

My father often says, "Son, I used to vote Republican.  But eventually I realized that they keep saying one thing and doing another."  Damn straight.

EDIT: From Ezra Klein, here's Newt Gingrich back in 1993, showing us what Republican economic advice is worth as we see Gingrich forecasting a recession.  That period that turned out to be the longest sustained growth of the American economy:

Rep. Newt Gingrich (R-GA), February 2, 1993: We have all too many people in the Democratic administration who are talking about bigger Government, bigger bureaucracy, more programs, and higher taxes. I believe that that will in fact kill the current recovery and put us back in a recession. It might take 1 1/2 or 2 years, but it will happen. (Congressional Record, 1993, Thomas)


  1. Mind if I link to this for others to peruse? It's a good summary of the inconsistencies in Republican fiscal lack-of-thinking, and I think it'd be good to spread the word.