And the Prize Goes To…

Senator John Kyl (R-AZ).  For what, you may rightfully ask?  For being the first Republican Senator to break their pledge not to seek earmarks. Congressional Republicans have banded together and denounced the practice known as ‘earmarking,’ which is a when a member of Congress requests funds for a project in their home constituency.  The GOP’s been opposed to the practice, saying that it’s corrupt, and that it’s fiscally irresponsble.  Kyl’s pledge lasted a whopping three days before he broke down, and even now, his argument is essentially, that’s it’s not ‘technically’ an earmark.

Except for the fact that it is.  It’s about $200 million in federal funds to settle water mismanagement claims against the government on Indian reservations in Arizona, Kyl’s home state.  It may not be within the technical parameters of an ‘earmark,’ but that’s exactly what it is.

It’s this, and reasons like this, that would amuse me every time I hear a Republican talk about the public debt or the deficit:  they don’t really care about it.  They use it as a weapon against Democrats when they think it’ll win them an election.  When I was born, we had the august Ronald Reagan, who blew a hole so big in the federal budget with rearmament projects that it toppled the Soviet Union.  Oh, and he simultaneously cut taxes, arguing (counterintuitiwrongly) that it would increase tax collections.  The first President to make significant progress on balancing the federal budget?  George H.W. Bush.  And he was denied reelection because he couldn’t garner more conservative support after raising taxes.  What about Bill Clinton, the first Democrat to come along in a while?  Oh, he was the one who actually not only balanced the budget, but gave the nation a surplus, and a pretty big one at that ($400 billion).  And then we had George W. Bush, who had taken what was the biggest surplus in the history of our nation at the beginning of his administration, and turned it into the biggest deficit ever.  Massive tax cuts for the rich, a vast new medication drug entitlement program, and an elective war that was sold to the public for reasons that he later admitted were total bullshit, and it was all essentially paid for with debt supplementals issued by the Treasury.

So, my Republican friends, you’ll have to forgive me that I smile when you talk about your concern for balancing the budget.  You may well believe that you can do it.  But it the two GOP presidents who were the most fiscally irresponsible were reelected, and the one who did the right thing was denied reelection.  Then, it was Clinton, the first Democratic president we had had in a long time, who finally succeeded.  And all of this, taken with Senator Kyl’s three days of abstaining from earmarks, are what amuse me.  You may think you can balance the budget.  But within modern history, you never have, and the way it’s looking, you’re not going to.



  1. This argument reads like you chewed up and then threw up talking points from 2003. Bill Clinton literally shut down the government in protest over spending cuts, the Republican congress balanced the budget. Reagan had an all Democrat legislature that hadn’t come within miles of balancing the budget in decades. And earmarks make up what, 0.00000001% of the deficit? If that?

    Really, what is your argument?


  2. Yes, Bill Clinton did. That was part of the give and take that eventually led to a balanced budget.

    And it was Reagan’s spending plans that blew a hole in the budget a mile wide. Remember his 600 ship navy? That didn’t pay for itself. Neither did the S&L bailout.

    And I agree with you, earmarks are negligible. But when the GOP comes up with their plans for balancing the budget, they don’t talk about Medicaid/Medicare, Social Security or defense. That’s 62% of the budget right there. And if you’re going to balance it, you’re going to have to cut from those three areas.

    I’m a liberal Democrat, and it’s my commitment to social programs such as those mentioned above that makes me want to put these programs on a fiscally sustainable footing.

    My contention is that the GOP doesn’t care about budget deficits. When George Bush was president, we heard nothing about conservative concern regarding the deficit. Now, we’re hearing it. And frankly, it’s manufactured, it’s contrived, and it’s bullshit. The GOP doesn’t care about the deficit. They care about taking back power.


    1. Haha, the give and take that led to the balanced budget? So you admit his role in balancing the budget was standing in the way of the Republicans who actually balanced the budget, and being there and standing in the way is enough to merit him getting credit for Republican successes?

      All Paul Ryan talks about is entitlement reform. Sure, it doesn’t get a whole hell of a lot of traction, but that’s because every time a Republican brings it up there are millions of Dem operatives waiting with “He wants your grandma to work in a coal mine until she dies” ads.

      Save for immediately following the collapse in 2008 Bush’s deficits were less than 1/3 of Obama’s deficits in each of his first two years. On top of that, his presidency really ended when he tried to make social security solvent and was beaten down by the Democrats. Non-defense discretionary spending was cut during Bush’s presidency while it’s nearly doubled under Obama. So, in short, your contention is not factually accurate. Not only do Republicans care about the deficit, they are the only ones out there who care about the deficit (alright, conservative independents do too).

      You want to put Social Security and Medicare on stable footing? Get behind the Roadmap. Back off the ideological opposition to vouchers and private investment, recognize that it is 100% impossible to tax these programs into solvency and let Paul Ryan fix the mess that liberal democrats have made.


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