Jonathan Chait

Democrats, Republicans, And Deficits

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In the context of the budget deficit, it's worth remembering that the one specific issue area where Democrats and Republicans disagree is that the former want to end George W. Bush's upper-income tax cuts and the latter want to make them permanent:

As for the Republicans, “we want to extend them all. That’s our position,” said Senator Judd Gregg of New Hampshire, the senior Republican on the Senate Budget Committee.

Gregg, the noted fiscal hawk, fails to explain where he would find the money to offset the cost of these large tax hikes. Gregg's answer to this problem is "Repeal the health care bill, for starters." Of course, the health care bill reduces the deficit, so repealing it would require even more offsets. Perhaps Gregg wants to keep in place all the cost savings in the health care bill and repeal the coverage expansions. He can go ahead and propose that. He won't do it, obviously. So, again, even the most allegedly committed Republican deficit hawks propose a larger deficit than Obama's budget. Oh, sure, they have unspecified talk about cutting the deficit, but then, so does Obama. Their only specific difference is a plan to make the deficit even higher. Right now, that's the only real fiscal difference between the two parties.

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