There’s a valuable column from MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough today in the Politico (read) Within its critique of hyperbolic media criticism of congressional Republicans, it gets to the heart of why Republicans in Congress are determined to have a showdown with President Obama on raising the debt ceiling. The answer — they were elected in 2010 to stop the growth of government, and they promised not to let government raise the debt again.
I have no idea which party or pol is going to come out favorably from this debate. But Scarborough is absolutely correct when he writes, “For 50 years, the federal government has grown at a sickening rate. Whether Republicans or Democrats run the White House, Washington’s establishment always gets its way — bigger budgets, bigger deficits and higher taxes.” The Tea Party revolution is not about abortion, gay marriage or cheap light bulbs, it’s about stopping the insane growth of government — a bipartisan deed — that has occurred over generations. Pols either elected in 2010 or affected by the Tea Party revolution are not going to accept a “compromise” plan that raises taxes and spending and then “promises” to cut spending 20 years hence, or 10 years hence. They only have to reflect on the past 50 years to know that any promise of cuts that includes the word “future” is bull.
Scarborough includes deficit numbers for the past 30-plus years, which is incidentally about the time pols and the public have been worrying about the debt and growth of government: “In 1980, the annual budget was $590.9 billion. By the beginning of the next decade, the yearly budget was $1.253 trillion. In 2000, the budget was up to $1.789 trillion in annual outlays, and by 2010, it was up to $3.456 trillion. After a decade of Obama’s budgets, the CBO projects our annual budget will explode to $5.451 trillion in 2020.
“Many Republicans now in Congress have been around long enough to see annual budgets explode from $500 billion under Reagan to $3.45 trillion under Obama. They have also seen the top marginal tax rate go from 28 percent under Ronald Reagan, to 31 percent under George H.W. Bush, to 39.6 percent under Bill Clinton, to 35 percent under George W. Bush. Considering that the size of Washington’s annual budget has doubled in the past decade, more than a few Republicans see no need to ask taxpayers for more money to feed the federal government’s voracious appetite for spending.”
Most of the GOP House and Senate signed no-tax pledges. They promised the electorate the growth of government would stop. The debt ceiling debate is the test as to whether they meant it or are just full of hot air.