In today’s column in the New York Times, Nobel Prize-wining economist Paul Krugman notes that Republicans are closer than ever of achieving their goal of “straving the beast” to force drastic spending cuts on needed program as necessary to tame budgets in lieu of their tax cutting ways.Â The problem is the party of No has become the part of “I don’t know.”Â There’s a deficit of ideas from Republicans about what to do about a situation that’s largely of their creation.
From the column:
“….ever since Reagan, the G.O.P. has been run by people who want a much smaller government. In the famous words of the activist Grover Norquist, conservatives want to get the government â€œdown to the size where we can drown it in the bathtub.â€
But there has always been a political problem with this agenda. Voters may say that they oppose big government, but the programs that actually dominate federal spending â€” Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security â€” are very popular. So how can the public be persuaded to accept large spending cuts?
The conservative answer, which evolved in the late 1970s, would be dubbed â€œstarving the beastâ€ during the Reagan years. The idea â€” propounded by many members of the conservative intelligentsia, from Alan Greenspan to Irving Kristol â€” was basically that sympathetic politicians should engage in a game of bait and switch. Rather than proposing unpopular spending cuts, Republicans would push through popular tax cuts, with the deliberate intention of worsening the governmentâ€™s fiscal position. Spending cuts could then be sold as a necessity rather than a choice, the only way to eliminate an unsustainable budget deficit.
And the deficit came. True, more than half of this yearâ€™s budget deficit is the result of the Great Recession, which has both depressed revenues and required a temporary surge in spending to contain the damage. But even when the crisis is over, the budget will remain deeply in the red, largely as a result of Bush-era tax cuts (and Bush-era unfunded wars). And the combination of an aging population and rising medical costs will, unless something is done, lead to explosive debt growth after 2020.
So the beast is starving, as planned. It should be time, then, for conservatives to explain which parts of the beast they want to cut. And President Obama has, in effect, invited them to do just that, by calling for a bipartisan deficit commission.”
We’re seeing this sort of non-response from the GOP when it comes to healthcare reform too.Â The President invited them to a bipartisan summit to come up with ideas and many Republicans — elected and the influential unelected — derided the President’s olive branch on healthcare “as a trap.”Â It’s only a trap if you’ve got nothing and the Republican’s don’t have much to contribute on healthcare reform than “no” votes to anything the President, Democrats in Congress and the 70 percent of the American people who want a public option want to do.
Back to Healthcare for a moment.Â Today’s NY Times carries this op-ed on the GOP plan for healthcare.Â In reading each aspect, it’s clear the GOP is far from united on what to do with the exception that they agree that theÂ President’s and the Democratic Congress/Senate plan won’t work.Â That’s helpful….
Back to Krugman:
“Why are Republicans reluctant to sit down and talk? Because they would then be forced to put up or shut up. Since theyâ€™re adamantly opposed to reducing the deficit with tax increases, they would have to explain what spending they want to cut. And guess what? After three decades of preparing the ground for this moment, theyâ€™re still not willing to do that.”