How to deal with the federal deficit and the proposed extension of tax cuts are the central questions for an independent voter this year.
Currently, Republicans propose specific tax cuts and only vague spending reductions. With tax revenues at 19 percent of GDP and federal spending at 23 percent of GDP, proposals to continue tax cuts without major reductions in spending on military, Medicare and Social Security are guaranteed to increase the deficit.
The Republican proposals are a replay of the policies of the George W. Bush administration. The Republicans' "new" pledge will repeat the same old process of cutting tax revenues without spending reductions. A fiscal catastrophe will result. Comparing the Clinton and bush administrations' fiscal performance is instructive. These facts are indisputable:
1. During the Clinton administration federal income taxes were increased.
2. During the Clinton administration the country enjoyed a net increase of 23 million jobs.
3. During the Clinton administration books were balanced. Indeed, when President Clinton left office the nation enjoyed a surplus.
4. During the administration of George W. Bush, federal income taxes were decreased.
5. During the George W. Bush administration the country suffered a net increase of only three million jobs, the worst performance since record keeping of job creation began before the Truman administration.
6. During the George W. bush administration books were unbalanced. Indeed, when President George W. Bush left office the nation suffered from record breaking deficits.
Former Vice President Dick Cheney famously said "Reagan proved that deficits don't matter." This view was embraced by Republicans until Barack Obama became president.
Now, Republicans seem to be obsessed with deficits, the result of former President George W. Bush's spending on military and Medicare. Yet, Republicans refuse to balance the books with increased tax revenues.
Without reductions in spending on military, Medicare and Social Security, or without book-balancing tax increases, the deficit will not be reduced. Still, Republicans propose no reductions in military, Medicare or Social Security. The specific tax cuts Republicans espouse will only increase the deficit.
Once again, Republicans are, to use Murray Kempton's description, drawing from their repository of tested untruths.
Michael E. De Grasse