Pledge of allegiance
As John Boehner blinks over taxes in a proposed debt ceiling agreement, it's an opportune time to recall the guiding "principles" of Republican fiscal policy: "deficit don't matter " and "no new taxes."
The sturm und drang over deficits is a new phenomenon, born of a Democratic president whose defeat the GOP leadership has made its real priority. After all, just a few short years ago -- fresh off the Bush tax cuts and ahead of unfunded wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Vice President Dick Cheney, in a conversation with then Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill, offered an honest take on the importance of a balanced budget to Ronald Reagan and, by extension, the Bush administration:
"You know, Paul, Reagan proved deficits don't matter. We won the midterms (congressional elections). This is our due."But more appalling than the casual attitude to the real Reagan economic legacy is the GOP's blind fealty to Grover Norquist, an unelected lobbyist who insists candidates sign a pledge against taxes, come hell or high water.
Well the river is rising, fast. And the Tea Party Caucus' casual attitude toward default could make things very hot indeed.
Although Boehner appeared ready and willing to broker a deal with Barack Obama that would include both taxes and cuts, it's become clear the House Speaker can't control his own leadership team, let alone his caucus.
When his own majority leader, Eric Cantor, opted for a short-term agreement -- one that will leave the issue on the table as election year fodder -- it became clear that politics trumps policy (and the national good) for the GOP zealots.
Progressives have been quaking prematurely at the thought that Obama might give away the store in the form of Medicare and Social Security reforms. And while that may still come to pass in some form, it is now abundantly clear Obama has been setting up the real fall guys for any failure to reach agreement.
And that would be the Norquist automatons, who refuse to acknowledge that the massive Bush tax cuts, renewed at their insistence only last December, are a major piece of the deficit over which they have belatedly expressed "concern."
It's downright frightening that one unelected lobbyist holds so much sway over our national future.