Friday, June 3, 2011

"Are you talkin' to me?"

"I got some bad ideas in my head!"

During yesterday's dismal White House budget meeting, Paul Ryan complained to the President about the "demagogy" of describing as  "vouchers" Ryan's plan to end Medicare in favor of...uh...vouchers. 

Then there was this zinger.

"We didn't create this mess," a Republican Congressman reportedly told Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner

Ryan's whining aside, on the larger issue of who created "this mess" - of course, they did.  The Republicans advocated for the policies and/or oversaw the calamities generating the red ink that's scaring voters.

"We didn't create this mess - blame Obama!" (or Medicare) are the Big Lies of the GOP's phony deficit hysteria and a shameless evasion of responsibility.

The entirety of budget deficits over the coming decade are the result of ideologically-driven policies - or policy failures - that can be traced to the Bush years.  In crucial aspects these policies were the centerpiece of the Bush/GOP agenda.  Current deficits and deficits projected for the next decade have nothing to do with either Medicare or Social Security, as the opportunistic deficit hysterics - even among some conservative Democrats - would have the citizenry believe. The attacks on Social Security and Medicare are not about deficit reduction. They are the result of deep-seated resentments on the Right toward social insurance that date back to the programs' inceptions and before.

Current deficits are a cover - and a deeply dishonest one - for the radicalized and demagogic GOP to attack popular social insurance programs under guise of "fiscal conservatism."  But there are no fiscal conservatives on that side of the debate.  GOP fiscal profligacy and policy failures are the root of the deficits. They created this mess.

Henry Aaron, a fellow at the centrist Brookings Institute, notes:
(A) debate over the size and role of social insurance is entirely appropriate... It is necessary, as well, for the nation to debate how best to rein in the growth of health care spending. Whether or not measures to slow the growth of spending on (Medicare and Social Security) prove eventually to be necessary, they can not materially affect the fiscal balance within the next decade.

Right now...the U.S. budget deficit equals 10 percent of gross domestic product, and one can explain the entirety of it without mentioning Medicare or Social Security. All of the current deficit and all of the deficits projected for the next decade can be explained—fully explained—by tax cuts enacted during the Bush administration, the costs of two wars, the economic downturn and measures to counter it, and the costs of servicing the resulting debt.   Were it not for these factors, the budget today would be fully in balance.
It's maddening to hear nonsense like "We didn't create this mess" coming from the corner where the mess was, indeed, largely cooked up.  To repeat Aaron's words "all of the deficits projected for the next decade can be explained—fully explained—" by deliberate policies, policy failures and crises of the Bush presidency.

It's also disturbing that these GOP radicals are so infantilized and/or dishonestly opportunistic that they can't take responsiblity for their own policy advocacy and outcomes, but feel the need to publicly push the blame  on Obama.

If the GOP wants to run on a platform of ending Medicare and cutting Social Security, fine.  But do it because that represents a core belief - not under cover of "bringing down deficits" that we're currently experiencing which have absolutely nothing to do with the programs under attack.