Monday, March 11, 2013

Budget Battles, A Thought Experiment


I don't usually like to delve into hypothetical scenarios and the like, but this is a thought experiment that I've mulled over in the wake of the election and the GOP's position on the budget. I'm glad that a post by Greg Sargent today does a good job of reading my mind explaining it, but here's my own truncated version of what Greg had to say, with a few different details. Let's say that, instead of taking a pretty severe beating in the 2012 election, the Republican Party scored a big win. Mitt Romney was sworn in as our 45th President with the same margin of victory that Barack Obama won by in November. The Republicans hold their majority in the House and the Democrats remain in control of the Senate. I think that we can all agree that this would be, by and large, equivalent to the political landscape in Washington right now, except reversed. 

Along with such an electoral victory comes a validation of the GOP's economic platform--at least in the short run. That platform of course being (an impossible plan) to cut taxes that was reminiscent of those in 2001 and 2003 and deficit reduction along the lines of Paul Ryan's budget blueprint. 

Now imagine that the Democrats, after being so badly beaten in an election and having their economic message so rejected by voters, insisted upon balancing the budget through only tax hikes. And then they complain that President Romney was being unreasonable by proposing a mix of tax hikes and spending cuts, with Democratic leadership saying that the recent fiscal cliff deal, in which $600 billion in federal spending had been cut, meant that "the spending issue is finished, over, completed" in spite of the fact that the ratio of previous tax hikes to spending cuts remained heavily skewed towards taxes. And to top it all off, they make the claim that "the American people are in no mood to cut spending." 

Um, what about the recent election in which the American people clearly were in the mood for exactly that? Didn't count, I suppose. 

You'll notice that what I've just done was reverse the roles of Democrats and Republicans in the current budget debate (not to mention changing a key word in that quote). If you thought that was an untenable and ridiculous position for the Democrats to take, well then you ought to take a look at the current GOP position on the budget, which consists of only spending cuts and still for some reason repeals Obamacare.  

Isn't this what elections are for? If I'm not mistaken, in our most recent one, the American people roundly rejected the GOP's economic vision, supported Obamacare, and was in favor of both spending cuts and tax hikes to reduce the deficit? Look, I realize that political reality necessitates that the Democrats compromise with the House GOP on the budget, but the fact of the matter is that Obama has offered them a lot of what they want. It's the Republicans who aren't doing their part here. It takes two to compromise, and so far all the GOP has managed to do is to propose plans based on an approach that voters rejected last November.