Tuesday, May 22, 2012

When it Comes to the Budget, Clinton and Obama have been More Conservative than Bush

Bruce Bartlett:
Mr. Clinton consistently governed as a fiscal conservative and Mr. Bush as a liberal. However, Mr. Clinton was not a conservative by today’s standards, but rather by those of an earlier generation. That is to say, he actually cared about the budget deficit and was willing to raise taxes to reduce it – as Ronald Reagan did 11 times, and George H.W. Bush courageously did even though he knew it would probably cost him re-election.

Today’s conservatives oppose tax increases so strenuously that many were willing to default on the nation’s debt last summer rather than raise taxes by a single penny. They overwhelmingly believe in a nonsensical theory called “starve the beast,” which asserts that tax cuts automatically reduce spending and tax increases never reduce the deficit because they invariably lead to spending increases.

The Clinton and Bush 43 administrations are almost perfect tests of starve-the-beast theory; the former raised taxes in 1993, while the latter signed into law seven different major tax cuts, according to a Treasury study. If there were any truth whatsoever to starving the beast, we should have seen a rise in spending during the Clinton years and a fall in spending during the Bush years. In fact, we had exactly the opposite results.
Andrew Sullivan:
There isn't a debate about Clinton's and Bush's records. The former was a conservative; the latter a big government spender and borrower who so crippled this country's finances it could barely survive the financial crash that was the exclamation point to the wreckage of the last Republican era.
And, I would add, Obama has been an even more conservative spender than Clinton. When it comes to the budget, the Republicans of our era are anything but conservative.

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