Making Bush Pay For It
For the last several weeks I have been advocating for the incoming Democratic committee chairmen to force Bush to pay for his foreign policy. I am happy to note today that the incoming chairs of the House and Senate budget committees are in fact sending out the word that Democrats will aim to balance the budget by 2012, and plan to force Bush to identify as part of the restoration of the "pay-as-you-go" budget rules how he plans to pay for his Iraq escalation and troop increases to the armed forces. Note that John Spratt in the House and Kent Conrad in the Senate are talking about tax fairness and helping the middle class, which is codespeak for undoing some of Bush's boondoggles for Corporate America and allowing the upper income tax cuts to expire at the end of this decade, as well as reevaluating the capital gains and dividend tax cuts.
The administration argues now that the deficit isn't really an issue anymore, since they have broken open the Social Security lockbox and looted the trust fund to pay for Bush's tax breaks for his rich friends and corporate checkwriters and masking the true costs of those revenue drains. But Democrats will be able to frame the tax and deficit debate as a choice between Bush's status quo that benefits the wealthy to the detriment of seniors and working Americans, or making everyone pay their fair share to support our country, its troops, and our communities.
Paul Krugman recently argued that in hindsight it may have been a mistake for the country to adopt Rubinomics during the 1990's, because those balanced budgets and surplusses allowed for despicable successors to squander them on tax cuts and wars instead of investing them in the country and our people. Krugman's thinking now is that Democrats should not commit to eliminating the deficit, but instead should commit to redirecting the government's spending to more productive and politically difficult-to-terminate uses.