Suddenly, Deficits Don’t Matter Anymore

Let our journalists help you make sense of the noise: Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter and get a recap of news that matters.


Republicans and Democrats have agreed on a year-end budget package that will increase the deficit by around $500 billion or so. There’s been a bit of grumbling about the bill from the Republican side, but mostly it’s not about the spending. It’s about the lack of shutdown bait like defunding Planned Parenthood and banning Syrian refugees. Paul Waldman comments:

Let’s be honest: despite all their talk about what we’re handing to the next generation and how government should balance its books just like a family does, when it comes down to actually making choices, Republicans are no more concerned about deficits than Democrats are. Crying about the deficit is a tool they use to constrain policies they don’t like. When it comes to the policies they do like, how much the government will have to borrow to fund them is barely an afterthought. So can we stop pretending they actually care about deficits?

I doubt it. Loads of people have been making this very simple point for years and years, but it’s done no good despite the plain evidence of the past few decades. Reaganomics was explicitly built on the idea that Republicans had paid far too much attention to deficits in the past. George Bush the Elder passed a budget bill that actually did reduce the deficit, and was pilloried for it. George Bush Jr. blew up the deficit with tax cuts and Republicans thought it was great. Over the past 35 years, the only time Republicans have seriously tried to rein in the deficit was during the Clinton and Obama administrations.

Republicans routinely insist that they care deeply about balanced budgets, and just as routinely this claim gets reported at face value. All the evidence in the world points in exactly the opposite direction, but it doesn’t matter: the conventions of journalism require reporters to pass along what politicians say, not what they mean. Overall, this is probably a good thing. But it sure does make it hard for the average Joe to understand what’s really going on.

SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

payment methods

SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate