Don't Think Deficits Are Important Anymore? Ask Senate Republicans
If you don’t think deficits matter anymore, take a look at this Page One in Monday’s Post by Jim VandeHei, who reports that the Bush deficits and heightened government spending from his first term is now dooming his plans for additional tax cuts in a second term. Moreover, key GOP senators are no longer willing to rush this year and make the Bush 2001 and 2003 tax cuts permanent in the face of staggering deficits well into the next decade. In fact, Senator Chuck Grassley says that there are already six GOP senators against making the tax cuts permanent, which means that Bush no longer has the votes in the Senate he needs to keep the cuts from expiring in 2010. GOP senators now say that there is only support for tax simplification, and not for any tax package that would include new tax cuts. So if new tax cuts and an extension of the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts are now off the table in 2005, this means that Bush will have lost his chance to lock in permanent tax cuts, since he will be a lame duck after this year and the deficits will only get worse from here on out.
So if the GOP is suddenly now skittish about deficits, it’s because sane heads in the Senate have finally acknowledged that they cannot keep pushing tax cuts, or even extending the current ones, while financing the Iraq war and other overseas campaigns and still pay for Social Security privatization, Bush’s Medicare corporate welfare, and Medicaid. With this schism in the GOP, Democrats should exploit this and take advantage of the expected head-in-the-sand reaction from House Republicans, who will keep pushing for tax cuts anyway while their Senate brethren lose similar fervor. House Democrats should make the case going into next year’s midterms that the country cannot afford Mr. Bush’s and Mr. DeLay’s fiscal policies anymore and that more Democrats need to be elected to restore fiscal sanity and a pay-as-you-go philosophy once again. By doing this, Democrats can assume the mantle of fiscal responsibility and push the House Republicans off onto the plank by forcing them to argue for more tax cuts at a time when the public would rather have a greater focus on domestic needs and fiscal sanity, rather than more tax cuts.
Anytime you see Grover Norquist unhappy that the tax-cut Kool Aid is no longer working in the Senate, you know that the Democrats have an opportunity to drive a further wedge between the House and Senate GOP, and pick up seats next year in the process.