I should have seen this coming. When Republicans (and their defenders like our local “newspapers”) were asked about the huge deficits that would occur with the Republican tax reforms, they either pointed to how the cuts would pay for themselves (which economists said would not happen) or they ignored it as our local papers often did. (In particular, I’d point to the Congressional Budget Office’s predictions of huge budget deficits which Representative McKinley disparaged and which received no attention by the locals.)
But now that both the House and Senate have finally passed tax bills, the word “deficit” has quickly returned to the editorial page of the morning Intelligencer. With unintended irony, given that this is the locals’ first mention of the national debt since Congress took up tax reform, we are told
Concern on Debt Is Long Overdue
And the editorial concludes:
The problem is not letting Americans keep more of our own money, it is spending like drunken sailors.
Obviously, this will, as the locals see it, justify huge cuts to social programs.
A number of other writers are way ahead of me on this one. Here’s Danny Westneat in the Seattle Times:
See how this works? Spending cuts are notoriously unpopular. So Republicans are instead slashing taxes, which people tend to like except that it obviously worsens the government’s fiscal position. But then the worsened fiscal position can become the rallying cry to slash spending — on health programs like Medicare and Medicaid, and also on Social Security.
They are counting on this working even though they are now the proximate cause of the ballooning deficits.
The Republican dream is to shrink or dismantle the social-safety net. It doesn’t take much of a prediction to bet that’s what’s coming next.
Charlie Pierce concurs:
No, they got what they wanted, and they’re going to be quite happy with it. Speaker Paul Ryan, the zombie-eyed granny starver from the state of Wisconsin, knows he’s a giant step closer to his lifelong goal of demolishing the social safety net. All he has to do is wait for the inevitable explosion of the deficit, at which point he will screw on his sad-basset face and tell us that Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid are just things we can’t afford anymore. The members of the House will quickly agree that the Senate bill is OK by them and pass it quickly on to a half-mad Republican president who won’t understand a word of what he’s signing but . . . so much winning.