Sunday, March 14, 2010

Why Deficits Matter

The news today about Social Security should remind all of us why deficits matter. From the AP:

The retirement nest egg of an entire generation is stashed away in this small town along the Ohio River: $2.5 trillion in IOUs from the federal government, payable to the Social Security Administration.

It's time to start cashing them in.

For more than two decades, Social Security collected more money in payroll taxes than it paid out in benefits — billions more each year.


For more than two decades, regardless of which political party was in power, Congress has been accused of raiding the Social Security trust funds to pay for other programs, masking the size of the budget deficit.
This is part of the reason I'm so frustrated with the Republican Party. Yes the Republicans. When the calendar flipped to January 2001, they supplanted the PAYGO Republicans of the '90's with the "Deficits Don't Matter" Republicans of the 2000's, many of whom are still there.

Repeatedly voting for deficit spending, the news on Social Security is a reminder that each one of the caucus who held office in the 2000's should be removed. Representatives like our own Scott Garrett voted to add $1.8 trillion to the on-budget deficit himself. That was in just four years, and doesn't include Iraq or Afghanistan.

Now out of power, the Republicans on the Hill have taken a "Born Again" deficit-hawk stance in the press that's about as flimsy as wet newspaper. Garrett and others still assail PAYGO budgeting, preferring to borrow instead of plugging tax loopholes. They also completely ignore, and even defend, the harmful financial consequences of programs like Medicare Advantage.

While it's nice that Garrett and the Republicans feel an election year is a good time not to pursue earmarks, most of these Representatives were the biggest pigs at the trough for the better part of a decade. One can't forget Garrett acquired earmarks for a program after the Army had ended the program and the recipient announced the end to their stockholders.

I'm sure the Republicans will grab this report and run with it in their fiscally irrational stance against health insurance reform. If they really cared about deficits, they'd look at the billions in deficit reduction as a good thing.

But what are facts but a nusance to the practitioners of partisan politics? Voters need to be reminded of this, constantly, heading into the fall.

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