The Odd Logic Of Deficit-Cutting Arguments

Dave Johnson

Have you noticed that there is a very odd logic around the DC Beltway deficit-cutting frenzy? Here is the basic argument:

A) Things worked great back when taxes on the rich were high. We built up the infrastructure that made us prosperous, and we built up a middle class. We didn’t have budget deficits. There were many other benefits to the economy, society and our democracy.

B) Then we cut tax rates for the rich and massively increased military spending. Since then — and directly because we did those things, — the budget and the economy have gone to pot. We had to cut education, stop maintaining the infrastructure, and cut all kinds of things that benefit regular people. Wealth has concentrated at the very top, and regular people are falling further and further behind. The country has lost its competitive edge in the world’s economy.

You would think people would be able to connect the obvious dots and come to the obvious conclusion about how to fix the problem. But instead the odd logic of the deficit cutters leads them to the strangest of strange logical conclusions about how to fix the problem:

C) Therefore we have to cut spending on things that benefit regular people, and especially on Social Security for the elderly. But we must not touch spending on the military even though we spend more than all other countries on earth combined. And raising taxes on the rich is off the table.

But … but … but …

As Homer Simpson would say, “D’oh!”

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