Brad Plumer's noticed a problem:
I'm a bit confused as to what Congressional Republicans think would make for a better budget. It seems that the two primary objections from President Bush's own party are: cuts to particular programs, and the yawning federal budget deficit, which the budget doesn't really cure. Okay. But then a sizeable majority of Congressional Republicans have also signed a pledge not to increase taxes. So that solution's out. Meanwhile, cutting discretionary spending even further will only yield very tiny reductions in the deficit. And Bush's two big entitlement "reforms"—including last year's Medicare bill, which will cost $400 billion over the next five years alone, and his vague hints at a proposed Social Security plan, which will cost $4.5 trillion over the next 25 years—will only expand the deficit by huge amounts. So where is fiscal sanity supposed to fit come from? Fairy-land?
There was a time when that question had an answer. Republicans who'd been cornered into signing Norquist's "no taxes" pledge during election campaigns decided that the ridiculous promises they'd been blackmailed into making were less important than sane governance. So one of them, President George H.W Bush, reversed course and proposed some revenue enhancements to close Reagan's deficit, and then convinced 30 of his Republican cosigners to follow his lead. That bit of fiscal responsibility paved the way for the surpluses and growth of the Clinton years (and, in turn, the irresponsible promises and economic absurdity of his son's campaigns). Would that the modern Republican party act with the same wisdom...
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