Thursday, January 04, 2018


I'm so old I remember when those famous deficit hawks of the Republican Party looked the other way as George W. Bush ran a surplus into a huge deficit with tax cuts and foreign wars. (Actually not all of them looked the other way; some of them bullshat with all their might about how it wasn't Bush who did it, it was the bleeding-hearts' cavalier spending on stupid things like food and medicine for poor people.)

Well, you don't have to be old to remember last month when Trump and the Republicans larded another trillion-plus onto the deficit just so more rich assholes can douche with Dom PĂ©rignon and wipe their ass with Treasury notes. At this point most Americans are clear about that and are probably at least closing in on the revelation that Republicans are full of shit when they profess concern with deficit spending.

It's so obvious even clue-averse Ross Douthat has picked up on it, and last weekend while people were distracted with New Year's preparations the Times columnist announced that if 2017 taught him anything, it's that deficits don't matter.

Douthat announced he had some "mistaken analysis to acknowledge and live down" and, after praising Trump because he "appointed decent judges and crushed the Islamic State" (Mission Accomplished!), admitted his error:
Now is a good time for intellectual humility, and for reserving judgment on an administration whose ultimate effects on domestic tranquillity and the Pax Americana remain uncertain. 
Instead, in the spirit of the longer view, I want to use this confessional column to reach back to the early Obama years, and the arguments I made then that assumed the urgency of deficit reduction, the pressing need for honest liberals to champion major tax increases and for honest conservatives to go all-in for major entitlement reform.
Yes, in those Obama years, for Douthat "it seemed reasonable to make deficit cutting a near-term priority from 2010 onward, to offset the surge of Great Recession spending with a period of belt-tightening." But he was wrong, oh, so wrong, and now believed "rather than pursuing a balanced budget for its own sake" America, being "a rich and powerful country with a stable government and control over its own currency," should not be "pursuing a balanced budget for its own sake."

Of course who could blame him -- Douthat certainly didn't blame himself: after all "people in the Obama White House" told him "it was important to reduce deficits pre-emptively," so it's really Obama's fault when you think about it.

Nowhere in this mea culpa did Douthat mention the geyser of new debt with which his former fellow deficit hawks had gifted the fisc; he's clearly hoping that we'll take it on faith that his was an organic growth toward his new loose money position, informed by careful study and fervent prayer. Maybe when the country's in ruins, Douthat will have another conversion experience; and, watching the senile Trump hauled off to prison, will like Harry Lynch in Wall Street say "the minute I laid eyes on you I knew you were no good." And expect us to believe it.

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