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And Who They Still Aren’t

February 1, 2010
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On that note, Tim Pawlenty has an op-ed in Politico in which he proposes (how appropriate) a spending cut.  Unfortunately, he doesn’t actually mention anything that he wants to cut besides… just… “spending”:

We should start with the obvious. When the bathtub is overflowing, a wise first response is to turn off the faucet. The federal government’s spending-increase spigot needs to be shut off.

This will require a national understanding and acceptance of the problem: We need to admit our addiction to the illusion of government “free stuff” and demand that spending be cut in almost all areas.

This will not be easy. In recent decades, the national debt has grown regardless of which party is in power because too many politicians seek support by spending more, even though a sound economic future demands they spend less.

Well, believe it or not, Tim, the federal deficit isn’t composed of one massive chunk of change called “spending” out of which we can simply cut a huge block whenever we want to.  It would be helpful had Pawlenty actually mentioned a thing or two that he wanted eliminated from the Fed’s budget, rather than simply wailing about Washington like the most uninformed of all libertarians.  Worse still, he doesn’t realize that the only party with any long-term legislative proposals for reducing the deficit (regardless of whether they will actually do so) is the… Democratic Party.  Yglesias:

Even if you accept all this [Pawlenty’s proposals], however, that leaves you with the status quo. A status quo which, according to Pawlenty, is unsustainable. And when you get right down to it, the health care bill reduces the deficit. Cap and trade can easily be structured so as to produce at least a moderate amount of deficit reduction. And of course tax increases reduce the deficit. So while he’s ready to lead a flock of deficit peacocks he’s clearly not ready to actually face up to the problems facing the country.

Bartlett, in an eviscerating takedown:

Like all Republicans these days, Pawlenty wants to have it every possible way: complain about the deficit while ignoring everything his party did to create it (Medicare Part D, two unfunded wars, TARP, earmarks galore, tax cuts up the wazoo, irresponsible regulatory and monetary policies that created the recession that created the deficit, etc.), illogically insisting that tax cuts are a necessary part of deficit reduction, and never proposing any specific spending cuts.

The only real idea Pawlenty puts forward is to “require a balanced budget with limited exceptions for war, natural disasters and other emergencies”, and give the President a line-item veto.  I don’t see anything wrong with those proposals (I’m actually preliminarily in favor of the latter), but they are both completely unfeasible within any time frame that’s supposed to be soon.  Until Paul Ryan becomes the House Minority Leader, I guess some of us will be perpetually whining about the Republicans.

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