Damning evidence from CBPP lays
responsibility for budget deficit on Republicans

The results of an analysis by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) released late yesterday demonstrate that the Bush era tax cuts, and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan account for virtually the entire federal budget deficit projected through 2019.

The analysis cites Washington Post columnist Robert Samuelson's retrospective in an article last week, which asked, "why did the federal government amass large deficits between 2002 and 2011, rather than the large surpluses that the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projected in early 2001."

In part, Samuelson that the 2001 and 2007-2009 economic downturns were found to be more significant than any single legislative change that policymakers enacted, citing an analysis of CBO data that ascribed nearly a quarter of the budget deficit over that period to the 2001 and 2003 Bush era tax cuts and the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Finding with Samuelson that the mounting debt had also raised interest costs on the debt, the CBPP analysis also attributed much of their projection on those interest costs. Additionally, other tax reductions enacted by the Bush administration, including the annual adjustments of the Alternative Minimum Tax that could otherwise have affected millions of higher middle income bracket households.

Projecting policy stasis into the near future, the CBPP found that the combined effect of the tax cuts, wars, and revenue shortfalls attributable to the economic downturn will account for the entire deficit through 2019, attributing nearly half of the debt to the wars and tax cuts alone.

Recommending once again that policymakers let the tax cuts expire, "the upper-income tax cuts now and the middle-income tax cuts when the economy has recovered more fully," or pay for any of the middle income tax cuts that the Republicans propose be made permanent.

To remain clearly non-partisan, this perspective on the cause of the mounting debt, which ties it to Bush era policy, the revenue shortfall associated with the economic downturn, and rising interest on the debt necessarily had to leave the hard analysis of the consequent political realities to those of us who are not concerned with perceptions of bias. Ignorance alone cannot explain the Republican congressional leadership's refusal to acknowledge the economic realities of their ongoing assault on low and middle income households, and newly confirmed lack of fiscal responsibility. Only two scenarios could explain their apparent betrayal of their obligation to serve the general good of the nation. They either truly are in service to the corporations and their wealthy benefactors, or they have boxed themselves into a policy from which they cannot retreat without loosing credibility entirely. Admission of past policy mistakes that cannot be differentiated from their current policy pursuits would necessarily amount to a confession of their unsuitability for office. But moreover, it would completely discredit the very foundation of conservative ideology.

The Republicans, if they hope to have a political future, are inexorably bound to their failed policies. Should they prevail in November, even only to retaining control of the House of Representatives, the millions who suffer as the economy dies by 1,000 cuts, will undoubtedly be addressed by rhetorical shift of the blame and denial that plays against a general lack of public understanding of economic realities.

A lot has changed since the Great Depression, during which taxes were raised with the cooperation of conservatives in Congress to meet the crisis, and after which they remained high into the 1970s, as America completed and embarked on massive infrastructure improvements—and "consumerism" grew to make America the undisputed World economic power it became. Since then, globalization of the World economy has made it unnecessary for corporations and wealthy investors to concern themselves with the well being of the consumer classes for profit and the accrual of ever increasing wealth. Since then, Americans have largely lost their sense that self sacrifice was necessary to meet the demands of a crisis. Since then, the ideological polarization resulting from the defection of conservative allegiances—once split between the Democrats and Republicans—and subsequent domination of Republican ideology by unyielding reactionary extremism now defines our political arena.

While recent polling demonstrates that Americans may be awakening to the political and economic realities, they also demonstrate a disconcerting lack of such understanding. The support for Mitt Romney, the presumptive Republican nominee, and presumably for GOP congressional candidates remains at nearly double the number of the party's core constituents. A great deal more effort to inform the public will be necessary if the Republicans are to be reduced to the irrelevant minority to which they must be reduced if the nation and all its people ever again hope to prosper and thrive.

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