22 June 2006

Fiscal responsibility

Via MKB, I learn that Garrison Keillor has a nice little rant worth suffering the ad at Salon. It largely concerns a defense of the virtues of my town, but this was my favourite bit:
You might not have always liked Republicans, but you could count on them to manage the bank. They might be lousy tippers, act snooty, talk through their noses, wear spats and splash mud on you as they race their Pierce-Arrows through the village, but you knew they could do the math. To see them produce a ninny and then follow him loyally into the swamp for five years is disconcerting, like seeing the Rolling Stones take up lite jazz.
As I've said before, how did it happen that the Democrats became the party of fiscal responsibility? What's wrong with the world?

The New York Times took a crack at explaining it back during the '04 Presidential campaign.

Democrats and Republicans are engaged in the economic equivalent of Nixon going to China: Republican presidents can get away with utterly irresponsible fiscal policies because there's no one to their right who will make too much trouble for them. Democratic presidents can get away with fiscal austerity because there's no one to their left who will make their life too difficult. But the irony should not be missed.
That's half right.

Republicans have a hazy idea that if they bankrupt the government, then it will compel us to do away with all of the expensive things it does which they don't like. Hence Grover Norquist's famous quote about getting government small enough that it could be drowned in a bathtub. All the way back during the Reagan adminstration, David Stockman admitted that bankrupting our way into a smaller government was the plan—he knew that cutting taxes wouldn't really increase revenue, the way that Reagan said it would.

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