Live from the Orange-Haired Baboon Cage: Trump is meaner in rhetoric than the orthodox Republicans, but not meaner than them in their lack of concern for the well-being of Americans: Jonathan Chait: Obama’s Gone, So Republicans Stopped Sabotaging the Economy: "During the Obama era, Democrats frequently believed, but only rarely uttered aloud in official forums, that the Republican Party was engaged in economic sabotage...

...Now that Republicans have reversed their position once again, also in a way that happens to redound to their political benefit, the answer seems a little more clear. Republicans have used their control of government to virtually double the budget deficit, which had been hovering around half a trillion dollars per year, and will now likely run well over $1 trillion—during the peak of an economic expansion. There is no economic rationale for this behavior. Their policy is simply to support fiscal contraction under Democratic presidents and fiscal expansion under Republican ones. Cynicism is the only basis to explain their behavior.

During the Bush administration, the party followed Dick Cheney’s famous dictum, “Reagan proved deficits don’t matter,” as a basic guide. Republicans financed two large tax cuts, a Medicare prescription-drug benefit, two wars, and a large domestic-security hike entirely through higher borrowing. Importantly, in addition to supporting permanent deficit increases, they also supported temporary deficit increases in order to ward off recessions....

When the economy entered another recession at the end of Bush’s second term, Republicans again overwhelmingly supported another temporary stimulus bill.... “This is the Senate at its finest, recognizing this was an opportunity to demonstrate to the public that we could come together, do something important for the country and do it quickly,” said a satisfied Mitch McConnell.... By 2009, the economy was plunging into the deepest crisis since the Great Depression. But at that point, which also coincided with partisan control of the presidency changing hands, Republicans decided they no longer agreed with Keynesian economics.... So thoroughly and so rapidly did this conversion permeate the Republican Party that, by the time Obama took office, it was almost impossible to find a conservative of any sort who had a kind word for the stimulus....

Once a Republican held the White House, Republicans simply abandoned the whole idea that sequestration, or anything at all, needed to be paid for. They have happily reverted to the Bush-era practice of putting everything on the national credit card.... Supporting fiscal stimulus now with unemployment close to 4 percent while opposing it when unemployment was far higher is a position no economist in the world would justify....

Whether this represents a conscious strategy of economic sabotage is not exactly an answerable question. The human brain is very good at concocting rationales for our self-interest. Republicans found reason to be receptive to arguments for Keynesianism under Bush, to reject them under Obama, and then to forget their old position under Trump...

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