These great graphs from the Washington Post compare these five plans to one another and to current policy. Note than on the first metric, the ever-popular question of budget deficits, all five dip lower than current projections in just a couple years.
Wonkblog has taken to using “austerity crisis” in place of “fiscal cliff.” They’re right: “fiscal” is not very specific, while “cliff” suggests a problem that happens all at once.
The reality is a crisis that unfolds over time. And it’s caused not by our fiscal policy in general but by something very specific: a severe austerity package actively imposed by Congress the last couple times it kicked the can down the road.
And as we saw then, there are really two questions at hand: when to reduce the deficit and how. The latter is a relatively straightforward partisan standoff. The former has become rhetorically rather bizarre.
In politics, competence sometimes serves as a rhetorical proxy for intent. Politicians like to talk about how terrific they/their ideas are. They aren’t always as gabby about what they/those ideas aim to accomplish.
Example: privatization. Some conservatives insist that private enterprise is simply more efficient--more competent--than the government. So why not let the private sector take over certain public functions?
But even if we concede that business is categorically more efficient than government, there remains the question of what it's doing so efficiently.
Jamelle Bouie recently lamented that liberals continually fall into the trap of focusing on crafting good policy arguments, while what wins debates (and even elections) are appeals to ideals and principles.
Like a lot of people, I've been paying less attention this year to the federal budget debates. With a divided government and a presidential election looming, the balance is tilted even more than usual toward budgeting-as-mere-political-posture. Why bother?
Among those of us who maintain that not everything the federal
government does should be either privatized or eliminated, it's common
to point out that income tax rates are a lot lower than they used to be,
especially but not only for the rich.
Paul Ryan is using the deficit as an excuse to shrink the government via tax
relief for the rich and program cuts that largely target the poor—while
sparing military spending. That isn't courageous; it's simply wrong.