Monday, July 18, 2011

Charlie Cook: Blame the GOP

Veteran political commentator Charlie Cook writes in The National Journal that we will not see a debt ceiling deal that will meaningfully impact the deficit and that Republicans are to blame.

Washington will not succeed in bending the deficit and debt curve, and Obama will be able to blame Republicans for their unwillingness to meet Democrats halfway. What has happened is that the New Republican Party has come to hate taxes a lot more than it hates deficits and the country’s growing indebtedness. It has rewritten history to omit any acknowledgment that President Reagan, when it was necessary, went along with tax increases. The memory of Reagan accepting tax increases, however reluctantly, has been supplanted by President George H.W. Bush’s fateful decision to go along with tax increases in the 1990 budget negotiations.

What the New Republican Party remembers is Bush losing reelection, not the fact that those tax increases were pivotal in eliminating the federal budget deficit under President Clinton and in the resulting period of strong economic growth. Bush’s loss is remembered, and the period of fiscal responsibility is forgotten. At least history will treat Bush 41 with more gratitude than his own party does.

Cook may be giving the Republicans too much credit in attributing their intransigent stance on federal revenues to any historical sources at all. It may be more a case of the most radical voices in the party, egged on by Fox News and other right-wing media, taking over and compromise of any sort becoming a thing of the past. Cook is right that this ideological nonsense doesn't play with the independent voters who usually decide Presidential elections.

--Ballard Burgher

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