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The White-House-to-Be in December 2008: I Think Jared Bernstein Gets It Right

Derek Thompson: Republican Presidential Candidates Lie All the Time, About Everything: Fiscal Balance Edition

Nobody has any business voting for, working for, contributing to, or making noises in support of this party.


Derek Thompson:

The Big Deficit Lie: Every GOP Debt Plan Leaves Us With More Debt: Each Republican candidate says he cares about the deficit. And each candidate's plan raises the deficit. Are they all bad at math, or do they just not care enough to do it right? The four remaining GOP candidates have a simple and straightforward plan for the direction of our federal debt. Up. Way up….

Today, public debt is equal to about 70% of our economy. If Congress allowed current law to play itself out, the Bush tax cuts would expire and that number would fall to about 60%, according to various estimates. That's pretty stable. But nobody wants the "current law" scenario to play out…. GOP plans would raise our debt burden to anywhere between 67% and a whopping 126% of the economy by 2021, according to CRFB….

[B]eating 60% is too hard. Let's move the limbo bar up a notch. CRFB also calculates its own "realistic baseline." This sounds complicated, but it's the deficit reducer's equivalent of Beginner's Level…. But even playing the game on Beginner, every GOP candidate that has ever led a national poll loses the game. Only Ron Paul wins, with a whopping $7.5 trillion in spending cuts….

[T]he president's budget (red in the graph below) wins the deficit reduction game (on Beginner's Level, at least)….

These plans don't accidentally raise the deficit. They just don't care about the deficit. Deficit reduction isn't hard to do, arithmetically. You raise taxes over time. You control discretionary spending. You clear the way for health care cost innovation while introducing policies that will limit health care in the future. It's not rocket science, it's math. The hard stuff is getting Congress to agree to your math. But how is that supposed to happen if pols refuse to do even the basic addition and subtraction when it's just them and a blank sheet of paper? What does it say about a party that believes "deficit reduction" is a worthy phrase, but not a worthy goal? And what does it say about our political system, and the GOP candidates in particular, that we're normalized to the idea that politicians offer debt-reduction plans that can't even live up to their name?