One of the talking points of Congressional Republicans is that the reason the party has agreed to raise taxes for the entire country because the Republicans are worried about our debt and deficit problem.
That’s a load of hooey.
If the Republicans cared about the debt and deficit, there wouldn’t even be any Fiscal Cliff negotiations.
Because the Republicans would have long since gone on vacation, comfortable in the knowledge that the deficit is about to shrink drastically.
Because that’s what’s going to happen on January 1, barring a Fiscal Cliff deal.
Taxes are going to rise, and spending is going to be cut.
If one’s primary concern is the debt and deficit, that’s exactly what one should want to happen.
(Yes, the economy will also get clobbered, but if your main concern is the debt and deficit, you should be OK with that. Your message, after all, is “we need to take our medicine.”)
Here’s the Congressional Budget Office’s projection of what will happen to debt as a percentage of GDP under two scenarios:
1) The Fiscal Cliff (the “baseline projection,” which shows a sharp drop in debt over the next decade)
2) An “Alternative Scenario” in which taxes are raised less and spending is cut less.
[credit provider=”Congressional Budget Office” url=”http://www.cbo.gov/publication/43539″]
As you can see, the debt looks much better under the Fiscal Cliff scenario.
So if Republicans really were basing their position on the debt and deficit problem, there wouldn’t be any deal talks of any kind. The Republicans would just let us sail over the cliff and be happy about it.
But there are deal talks.
So we can conclude that the actual agenda of the Republicans in Congress is something quite different than addressing the debt and deficit problem. Namely, the Republicans want to raise taxes for people they don’t care about and cut spending on things they don’t like.
That, of course, is the agenda of the Democrats, too. So the Republican behaviour is understandable.
But let’s just be clear that it has nothing to do with the debt and deficit problem.