Republican Deficit Hawks Magically Go Extinct (Again)

Can we please stop pretending "fiscal conservatism" is a real thing?
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Can we please stop pretending "fiscal conservatism" is a real thing?
And then I said "Obama, I cannot, in good conscience, put a single penny on America's credit card!"

And then I said "Obama, I cannot, in good conscience, put a single penny on America's credit card!"

The strangest creature in the world is the Republican Deficit Hawk. No other animal on the planet can be counted on to go extinct every 4 to 8 years.

If you'll recall the distant past of 2011, the mighty Republican Deficit Hawk was so plentiful that they caused the credit rating of the United States to be downgraded for the first time ever. They refused to raise the debt ceiling of the country unless we cut spending on the poor and sick (it's what Jesus would have wanted) and the markets got spooked at the prospect of a global financial collapse if we reneged on our obligations. 

But since January 20, 2017 (earlier, actually), the massive flocks of Deficit Hawks have completely disappeared, replaced by hordes of the Spineless Sycophant: 

Conservatives are curiously zen about the debt ceiling hike, which points to a tectonic shift in the politics of debt now that we've entered the Trump Era. Not a single major conservative outside group is demanding the White House slash spending in exchange for their cooperation raising the debt ceiling (which will have to happen in October). Privately, most top Trump administration officials are delighted conservatives aren't pressuring them.

Between the lines: The politics of debt have shifted under Trump; top White House officials are now weighing tax cuts that could substantially increase the deficit in the short-term.

It's not terribly surprising Republicans suddenly don't give a damn about deficit spending. They've been playing this game for decades and they always win it. Over the past 37 years, the only time the deficit has been reduced has been under Democratic presidents. Republican presidents, on the other hand, have exploded the deficit, each time to new, unheard of heights with the full blessing of congressional Republicans 

Yet, Republicans have laughably laid claim to the title of "The Fiscally Responsible Party." 

Part of how Republicans get away with this obvious con is The Big Lie that they repeat endlessly to their reprogrammable base: Liberals are the tax and spenders while conservatives are responsible. Republican voters literally believe that Obama increased the deficit because that's what they were told over and over for eight years straight. If you ever want to see cognitive dissonance in action, show one the deficit numbers for the last 16 years; you'll be able to watch them reject reality in real time.

A larger part of the GOP's success in bamboozling the public is that the "liberal" press lets them do it. Instead of simply saying, "That's not true, you're lying" the Chuck Todds and Chris Cillizzas of the Beltway media sit back and let Republicans spread their bullshit from dusk to dawn. When every lie Republicans tell becomes a "he said/she said," facts become irrelevant and then Donald Trump gets elected. Stenography masquerading as journalism lands Todd and Cillizza a fat paycheck but does a disservice to the nation.

The bottom line is that Republicans love massive deficit spending for the same reason they love recessions: it's a means to an end. The higher the deficit and the debt, the more they can justify cutting the social safety net. They're so comfortable with this scam that they even use recessions to justify cutting taxes on the rich to "stimulate" the economy. Yeah, the rich get "stimulated" all right, but it doesn't do a damn thing for the economy.

But for all you wildlife conservationists out there, don't worry! The Republican Deficit Hawk will rise phoenix-like from the grave on January 20th, 2021. They will take to the sky in flocks so large they will blot out the sun, demanding once more that we cut taxes on the rich and food stamps for the poor.

And Chuck Todd and Chris Cillizza will be there, ready to scoop up their droppings and call it fiscally responsible policy.

There are 483 days left to the 2018 elections.

- This article kills fascists

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