Yesterday, Mitt Romney addressed the the national debt with a collection of buzzwords and half- truths, that should give economists, American voters, or just anyone grounded in reality serious pause. His speech hit all the high notes on the Republican’s overplayed economic scale:
- Tax cuts
- Cuts to Medicare and Social Security
- Increased military spending
- Tax cuts (A catch-phrase so overwhelming popular on the right, we listed it twice)
If one of those sounds like it doesn’t belong in a discussion of debt reduction, that’s because it doesn’t. Increasing a budget that dwarfs the combined military spending of the rest of the planet is a ludicrous notion for a country that is seriously working for deficit reduction.
But then, couple that with the rallying cry of tea-partiers and 1%’s alike, tax cuts, and now you’re just talking nonsense. An admittedly simplified comparison would be if you or I, decided to save money by going to work less and buying more pie. Everybody thinks they work too hard. And everyone likes pie. I’m surprised Mitt didn’t offer to take Iowa to Disneyland. It’s just as realistic.
And don’t forget, wherever two or more Republicans are gathered, Obama’s name will be cursed. New York Magazine’s Jonathon Chait details a catalog of blame Romney heaped on President Obama’s shoulders for the deficit, without one word about the Bush Administration. But that’s not unusual either. For three years and counting, the entire Republican party has suffered from what I call Bush Amnesia Syndrome, or BAS. Symptoms include never discussing the original source of the Great Recession, and the belief that there was peace in the Middle East before Obama was elected.
But the most compelling reason for never uttering the name Bush, when discussing our debt, is that Romney is doubling down on cutting taxes for the wealthy in wartime , which is unarguably the reason we are in our current economic malaise. The bipartisan Committee for a Responsible Budget attempted to do the math on Romney’s proposed budget back in April, and that was before he started talking about increased military spending. Their findings were frustrated by the lack of specifics in Mitt’s rhetoric, but their conclusion was that he would come up short.
Is there any point in even discussing the Medicare and Social Security cuts? The right talks about those two programs as if they were infinite black holes of waste. And while, of course, no government program is without some amount of waste, which do you think has more potential for trimming; Medicare or military?
Mitt Romney has no new ideas to add to the deficit problem. And he seems pre-programmed to smile knowingly and say the things that Republicans, unfathomably, still want to hear. If our debt has left us trapped in a hole, Romney’s offer of more shovels isn’t going to be much help.