Saturday, November 28, 2009

Rove: Deficits Matter… Now

Karl Rove has suddenly seen the light about deficit spending… or at least he does now that he’s got his gig at the Wall Street Journal and can tut-tut about how bad it is that the government is in debt and is likely to incur some more.

Last year, Mr. Obama made fiscal restraint a constant theme of his presidential campaign. “Washington will have to tighten its belt and put off spending,” he said back then, while pledging to “go through the federal budget, line by line, ending programs that we don’t need.” Voters found this fiscal conservatism reassuring.

However, since taking office Mr. Obama pushed through a $787 billion stimulus, a $33 billion expansion of the child health program known as S-chip, a $410 billion omnibus appropriations spending bill, and an $80 billion car company bailout. He also pushed a $821 billion cap-and-trade bill through the House and is now urging Congress to pass a nearly $1 trillion health-care bill.

Oddly enough, deficits didn’t really matter to Mr. Rove and his bosses during the Bush administration. It didn’t matter that we went into two wars and added prescription benefits to Medicare without paying for any of them. As Steve Benen points out, we are now adding to the deficit because of the damage left behind.

The stimulus was necessary because Rove’s old boss left the president an economy on the verge of wholesale collapse. S-CHIP expansion was necessary because Rove’s old boss rejected a bipartisan measure to help low-income children go to the doctor. Rescuing the auto industry was necessary because it was a continuation of Rove’s old boss’ policy and the nation couldn’t afford to cut off American manufacturing at the knees at the height of the recession. Cap and trade, Rove neglected to mention, wouldn’t add to the deficit, and is necessary because Rove’s old boss ignored the climate crisis for eight years. The health care reform bill would cut the deficit significantly, and is necessary because Rove’s old boss fiddled while the dysfunctional health care system got worse.

The vast majority of the deficit can be laid directly at the feet of the Bush administration. That’s not political rhetoric or finger pointing; that’s a fact.

What it comes down to is that, to Karl Rove, deficits under Republican presidents are necessary to do the really important things, like give tax breaks to the people who least need them and start wars against countries who didn’t attack us, but deficits under Democratic presidents are evil, profligate, and will burden future generations. Got it.

They didn’t call Karl Rove “Turd Blossom” for nothing.