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May 10, 2010

The Odd Logic Of Deficit-Cutting Arguments

-- by Dave Johnson

This post originally appeared at Campaign for America's Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture as part of CAF's ongoing "Virtual Summit on Fiscal and Economic Responsibility for People Who Did Not Wreck The Economy." I am a Fellow with CAF.

Have you noticed that there is a very odd logic around the DC Beltway deficit-cutting frenzy? Here is the basic argument:

A) Things worked great back when taxes on the rich were high. We built up the infrastructure that made us prosperous, and we built up a middle class. We didn't have budget deficits. There were many other benefits to the economy, society and our democracy. They were America's golden years.

B) Then we cut tax rates for the rich and massively increased military spending. Since then -- and because we did those things -- the budget and the economy have gone to pot. We had to cut education, stop maintaining the infrastructure, and cut all kinds of things that benefit regular people and make the economy grow. Wealth has concentrated at the very top, and regular people are falling further and further behind. The budget cuts made us "eat the seed corn" and now the country has lost its competitive edge in the world's economy.

You would think people would be able to connect the obvious dots and come to the obvious conclusion about how to fix the problem. But instead the odd logic of the deficit cutters leads them to the strangest of strange conclusions about how to fix the problem:

C) Therefore we have to cut spending even more on things that benefit regular people and grow the economy (and especially on Social Security for the elderly). But we must not touch spending on the military even though we spend more than all other countries on earth combined, and military spending hurts the economy. Raising taxes on the rich back where they were before cutting them started all the trouble is flat-out off the table.

But ... but ... but ...

As Homer Simpson would say, "D'oh!"

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Posted by Dave Johnson at May 10, 2010 12:06 PM


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