TPM and the Triumph of Hope Over Reason

Today’s piece by Brian Beutler over at TPM on the payroll tax cut has to be one of the single dumbest pieces of political analysis I have ever read. And that is saying something. It is literally mind-boggling.

Here is the main argument:

For years and years, conservative elites have rested their hopes of shrinking the federal government, including its most popular programs, on the theory that if they just “starve the beast” — keep taxes low until the budget comes under enough strain that those programs have to be slashed — then Democrats will ultimately fold, rather than touch off a fiscal crisis.

So, wait a minute. The GOP goal has been to slash revenue in order to force a crisis that will make cuts inevitable, and the reason we know this has failed is because… wait for it… they agreed to slash revenue.

Anyone see a problem with this? When the GOP actually signs on to new revenue, we can claim that we’ve killed “starve the beast.” Until then, the strategy is still alive and well and just waiting for an even more severe crisis to kick in making further cuts necessary.

Look, “starve the beast” is working. The number of government employees continues to decline (and those who remain are likely to see themselves fall farther and farther behind private sector workers in compensation), discretionary spending is being cut, the debt continues to increase, taxes remain low. I am not claiming that we’re on the verge of a spike in interest rates. But surely, at some point rates will rise, and when the do more spending cuts will become necessary.

It really isn’t that hard to understand. As long as federal revenue stays at 60+  year lows “starve the beast” remains fully operational. And having the GOP agree to yet another tax cut paid for by deficit spending is not a victory. Indeed, we’re now at the point where the Dems are actively carrying water for the Republican strategy of keeping federal revenue at inadequate levels.

What that tells me is that the GOP is thinking long term. For all their lunatic ranting about brown people and abortion and the “war on Christianity” and fluoride in the drinking water, they are playing the long-game and winning.

Again, real simple, until the Democrats are able to push through a tax increase that brings federal revenue back up to 20% of GDP, the structural incentives will continue to be in favor of cuts.

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