Ohio Gov. John Kasich is such a deficit hawk, the Republican presidential candidate wants to change the Constitution to forever prohibit federal budget shortfalls. Kasich does not, however, want these restrictions to apply to himself – the GOP governor said two weeks ago that voters should expect “to see the deficit increase,” at least for a while, if he’s elected to the White House.
A few days later, Jeb Bush and Donald Trump largely conceded their economic plans would increase the deficit. Bush, in particular, chided those who “freak out about the deficit.”
It’s quite a turn of events. In the recent past, the Tea Party “movement” took shape in part because of far-right fears about federal budget shortfalls. Throughout President Obama’s tenure, congressional Republicans have insisted that every White House priority be fully paid for – a demand that never existed during the Bush/Cheney era, when nearly every major initiative was simply tacked onto the national debt – even after Obama cut the deficit by $1 trillion.
We nevertheless now have GOP presidential candidates going back to their old habits, now that the Democratic president has fixed the problem that Republicans pretended to care about.
But against this backdrop, Marco Rubio tends to be in his own category. Consider the far-right senator’s comments yesterday to CNBC’s John Harwood.
RUBIO: Well, within the ten-year window, my plan begins to create a surplus. The second point I’d make to people is, you can’t tax your way into a stable budget.HARWOOD: Wait, your plan creates a surplus because of the dynamic effect?RUBIO: Absolutely.
Um, no. Absolutely not.
In Rubio’s mind, his approach to trickle-down economics will be so effective, it’ll send the economy into overdrive, create all kinds of new revenue, and the tax cuts will pay for themselves.
In other words, if he’s elected, Rubio would inherit a deficit of several hundred billion dollars, which he’ll eliminate with massive tax breaks, none of which he’ll pay for, all of which will lead to a surplus.
This is bonkers. No serious person seriously believes tax cuts can pay for themselves – and that includes the man congressional Republicans recently chose to lead the Congressional Budget Office. If politics made more sense, Rubio’s tax-cuts-lead-to-surpluses claims would effectively be a disqualifier, since the argument has already been thoroughly discredited.
When evaluating some of the leading Republicans’ plans, it’s obvious that each of them would add trillions of dollars to the national debt. The question is the degree to which the candidates are prepared to be honest about what’s plainly true.
It is, to be sure, annoying when GOP officials flip-flop, arguing that the deficit only matters when there’s a Democratic president, when it’s apparently The Most Important Issue On Earth, but for a candidate like Kasich, there’s at least some degree of honesty – he knows he’s going to inherit a deficit and he admits he intends to make it even bigger.
Rubio doesn’t bother with such niceties, choosing instead to embrace the math of Fantasy Land.