Me, either. The notion that we need tax cuts to get the economy moving again is easily disproved by a look at recent history; our economy was much better in the 1990s than the 2000s, and tax rates were higher back in those good old days. I am something of a budget hawk myself, and I would love a balanced budget, but as a first step we should set our tax rates back to where they were the last time our economy was really growing fast. Then we should pull all of our troops out of Iraq and Afghanistan, scrap the F-35 fighter, stop building submarines we don't need, and generally cut the defense budget by 20 or 30 percent. If that still doesn't do the trick, I am willing to discuss reductions in domestic spending, too. But the notion that excessive social spending is at the root of our problems is propaganda, pure and simple.
Take five steps back and consider the nature of the political conversation in our nation's capital. You would never know that it's taking place at a moment when unemployment is still at 9 percent, when wages for so many people are stagnating at best and when the United States faces unprecedented challenges to its economic dominance.
No, Washington is acting as if the only real problem the United States confronts is the budget deficit; the only test of leadership is whether the president is willing to make big cuts in programs that protect the elderly; and the largest threat to our prosperity comes from public employees.
Thanks to the Tea Party, we are now told that all our problems will be solved by cutting government programs. . . . They foresee nirvana if we simply reduce our spending on Head Start, Pell grants for college access, teen pregnancy prevention, clean-water programs, K-12 education and a host of other areas. Does anyone really think that cutting such programs will create jobs or help Americans get ahead? But give the Tea Party guys credit: They have seized the political and media agenda and made budget cutting as fashionable as Justin Bieber was five minutes ago.
More striking is the Tea Party's influence on Washington's political elite, which looks down at the more extreme men and women of the right when they appear on Fox News but ends up carrying their water.
Lori Montgomery reported in The Post last week that a bipartisan group of senators thinks a sensible deficit reduction package would involve lifting the Social Security retirement age to 69 and reforming taxes, purportedly to raise revenue, in a way that would cut the top income tax rate for the wealthy from 35 percent to 29 percent.
Only a body dominated by millionaires could define "shared sacrifice" as telling nurses' aides and coal miners they have to work until age 69 while sharply cutting tax rates on wealthy people. I see why conservative Republicans like this. I honestly don't get why Democrats - "the party of the people," I've heard - would come near such an idea.