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Sunday, July 20, 2003
Logic deficit
Wouldn't complaints about the deficit be more credible if they were coming from people who had ever met a federal program (other, of course, than the defense department) that they didn't like? I didn't notice Democrats who demanded a prescription drug program worrying about the deficit. I didn't notice Democrats who demanded federal grants to the states for their budgets worrying about the deficit. I didn't notice Democrats who complained about the lack of funding for No Child Left Behind, or for port security, or for aid for Africa, or peacekeeping in Liberia, worrying about the deficit. I didn't notice Democrats who demanded universal health care worrying about the deficit.

So what's with the sudden interest in the deficit? Mere partisan hypocrisy? Well, there are a few other possibilities:
  1. These Democrats want to raise taxes in order to pay for these additional boondogglesprograms. Hmm. I've heard many Democrats complaining about Bush's tax cuts; I've only heard some actually suggesting that these tax cuts be reversed. And I've heard none suggesting that taxes actually be raised from their pre-Bush levels.

  2. These Democrats want to cut other programs in order to pay for these additional programs. Okay, which? Sure, we could save a little money if there were other countries participating in Iraq. But certainly not enough to eliminate the current deficit, let alone pay for additional programs. And I've heard no proposals to eliminate other federal programs. Nobody who suggests that perhaps Medicare and Social Security ought to be means tested. Nobody (on the Democratic side) who suggests that maybe the Department of Education is a big waste of money. If they're not going to propose large cuts, then they can't create large additional spending programs (without deficit spending).

  3. Although Democrats don't like deficits, these Democrats think the new spending ideas they have are preferable to deficit reduction. Well, reasonable people can disagree on that argument; it's not frivolous. But if that's the case, then clearly they don't think deficits are that dangerous. In that case, what they're doing is using the deficit as a pretext to complain about tax cuts.
They don't care about deficits per se; they just don't like tax cuts. But since that's a losing political argument, they're citing the deficit.

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