Corey Robin explains how the Democrats came to be the party of fiscal responsibility.
Consider the two major presidential cycles of the last three decades: Reagan/Bush-Clinton and Bush-Obama.
During the 1980s, the Republicans cut taxes and ran up huge deficits. Then Bill Clinton came into office and announced his intention to reduce deficits. Anxious to appease Robert Rubin and the bond market, he abandoned whatever pretense of a progressive economic agenda he had set out during the campaign. He and the Democrats raised taxes and allowed government spending to decline dramatically as a percentage of GDP. By the end of his second term, Clinton had managed to generate a surplus—with the explicit purpose of not only reducing the debt but also shoring up Social Security—only to have the Bush White House squander that surplus through massive tax cuts and increased military spending.
When Barack Obama assumed office in 2008, he faced a similar conundrum as Clinton ....