Frankly, I’m appalled at the mendacity of the Republicans and the right wing media in this presidential campaign. I’ve heard more of the ridiculous, the absurd, and the hypocritical in the last few weeks than I ever thought possible. Clearly, we’ve underestimated these people.
Anyway, I figure the most effective way to dismantle their positions is simply to take them apart one by one—Today’s topic: federal spending, the deficit, and “small government.”
Myth: I’m voting for Republicans and Mitt Romney because I’m a fan of small government and I’m concerned about the deficit.
Truth: The last three Republican Presidents have grown the size of government far more than Clinton and Obama, and if we take Romney’s vague promises seriously, we should expect more of the same.
It’s true—according to the Wall Street Journal, federal spending under Obama has grown at a measly 1.4%, whereas the government grew by around 7.5% under Bush. His daddy increased spending by 5.4%, and even Reagan, the Republican Godhead, grew the government by 8.7% in his first term, and 4.9% in his second.
We should also expect government to grow considerably under a President Romney. He’s proposed cutting taxes rates by 20%, but hasn’t yet specified how these would be paid for, so unless he’s willing to enact the austerity programs the Right Wing desperately wants, those tax cuts will probably simply be added to the deficit, because no matter how many times Obama says it, I don’t think there’s anyway Romney would actually increase taxes on the middle class (although the reason Obama can make this claim is precisely because Romney has said that his MASSIVE tax cut is paid for, but won’t say how).
In contrast, President Obama is actually taking steps to cut military spending, as well as to eliminate excesses in Medicare—why Romney and Ryan are running around claiming that Obama is a horrible person for cutting $716 billion from the program is beyond me—isn’t that proof that Obama is serious about being a responsible spender? He’s also made a specific proposal (in contrast, again, to Romney, who has been anything but specific) to bring down the deficit by $4 trillion over 12 years using a 2.5 to 1 ratio of spending cuts to revenue increases.
Finally, let’s talk about Obamacare. Clearly, this program is evidence of a huge new government program that will cost trillions of dollars and expand the government, right? Actually no. Obamacare reduces the deficit modestly, and the law works by A) enacting regulations on the health care industry, and B) using the tax code as a means to help people get health insurance through PRIVATE INSURERS—not the government. So as much as the right wing hates it, Obamacare is not a massive expansion of government, in terms of cost or function.
In sum, the notion that one would vote for Romney or the Republicans because they believe in small government or are concerned about the debt, is at the very least, misguided. For one, Obama, despite all of the slander and screaming about him being an out of control spender, has been the most frugal President we’ve had in the last 30 years. In addition, based on Romney’s proposals to cut income taxes by 20% and increase military spending by $2 trillion, it is likely that his administration would do nothing to decrease the deficit, and would in fact, accelerate the growth of the federal government. Last, if history is any indication, Republican policy in the last 30 years tends to increase the deficit and the size of government.