Telling Republicans in Congress that the debt is “no big deal,” President Barack Obama has finally exposed the phony GOP argument that if the budget isn’t slashed the U.S. economy will crash. Without citing any facts or proof to their arguments, Republicans, led by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), have insisted on slashing the federal budget. While Ryan insists he’s worried about long-term growth, he’s the same congressman that backed former President George W. Bush’s economic program that led to the worst financial collapse since the Great Depression. Ryan stakes his economic arguments on zero facts. He’s the same guy that railed against Obama’s economy while running as former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney’s running mate during the 2012 campaign. He warned of a pending economic collapse if voters didn’t send he or Mitt to the White House.
Since losing the election Nov. 6, 2012, the economy’s done nothing than show steady economic growth. While completely ignored for purely political reasons during the campaign, the public’s supposed to trust Ryan now. Unwilling to tell the truth during the campaign about his economic program, Ryan now admits his plan cuts about 200,000 federal jobs. “We don’t have an immediate crisis in terms of debt,” Barack told ABC News George Stephanopoulos on “Good Morning America.” “In fact, for the next 10 years, it’s going to be in a sustainable place,” referring to progressively shrinking federal budget deficits. Ryan’s been trying to impose his budget on the Congress almost two years. Ryan makes no reference to lowered unemployment and shrinking budget deficits in his grand plan. Whether the economy improves or not, Ryan believes the government should spend less on social programs.
When voters rejected Romney and Ryan’s plan Nov. 6, 2012, the feisty House Budget Chairman decided he’d impose his will on the sequester. There’s no logic at all in the Ryan plan. Whether he sees growth, lower deficits and reduced unemployment, he still wants to slash the federal budget. For Ryan as a Tea Party fanatic, it’s a matter of ideology, not economics, to slash the federal budget. His Tea Party friends don’t want to pay for Obama’s health care plan—or any other government entitlement—as a matter of principle, not economics. Ryan’s opposition to Social Security and Medicare is not about money, it’s about the appropriate government role. To Ryan and other Tea Party types, it’s precisely what Romney was quoted as saying about the “47%” during the campaign: 47% of the public that vote for Obama are government dependents, expecting Uncle Sam to pay for everything.
Republicans are hell-bent on pushing a phony economic theory that says the economy can’t grow without slashing the federal budget. Yet during the Reagan years, where a balanced budget was promised by 1983, the nation ran four times the deficits of former President Jimmy Carter by the time Reagan left office Jan. 20, 1989. Reagan’s Treasury Secretary Donald Regan and Reagan himself said many times that deficits were tolerable as long as they were a shrinking part of the nation’s Gross Domestic Product. Congressional Budget Office predicts federal deficits would shrink to $845 billion in 2013 and to around $600 billion n 2014, given the current pace of jobs growth. “I think what’s important to recognize is that we’ve already cut $2.5-2.7 trillion out of the deficit,” Barack told Stepahnopoulos. “If the sequester stays in, you’ve got over $3.5 trillion of deficit reduction already.”
When Simpson-Bowles debt commission called for $4 trillion in debt reduction over 10 years back in 2010, it didn’t anticipate the steady economy growth that led to over 236,000 private sector jobs in February. Ryan’s extremist budget cuts threaten to sabotage Obama’s steady economic growth. Paul’s been told by practically every reputable economist, including Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke, that now is not the time to slash the federal budget. Republicans talk of economic growth but they can’t have it both ways: Steady economic growth under Obama’s policies and proposing changes that would undermine the economy. If the GOP just goes back to Reagan years, they’d find far more tolerance of deficits while the economy adds jobs, generating more tax revenues eventually balancing the budget. Ryan’s approach completely ignores today’s steady growth under Obama’s economic policies.
Obama has finally told the public the truth about today’s deficits and economic growth: That today’s economic policies have led to more jobs, greater tax revenue and less need to slash federal spending. Ryan’s failure to acknowledge any positive economic news, including the stunning rebound in the stock and real estate markets, shows that he’s imposing his Tea Party ways not to improve the economy but to assert his extremist version of social policy. He and Romney made it clear during the campaign they opposed Obamacare not because it was too costly but because Americans citizens aren’t entitled to health care. “I am prepared to do some tough stuff. Neither side’s gonna get 100 percent. That what’s gonna be good for jobs. That what’s gonna be good for growth,” said Obama, signaling that he has no intent of caving in to Ryan’s arbitrary and capricious spending plan.
About the Author
John M. Curtis writes politically neutral commentary analyzing spin in national and global news. He’s editor of OnlineColumnist.com and author of Dodging The Bullet and Operation Charisma.