When he’s not reminiscing about having successfully deregulated credit default swaps, Pennsylvania’s Republican senate nominee Pat Toomey likes to scaremonger about government spending. In fact, he told the Harrisburg Patriot-News’ editorial board that one of his “top three priorities” is cutting government spending.
“I hear a lot of people who are fearful about the future of our country,” Toomey said. “They are very worried about the size of the deficit and worried their kids are ultimately not going to be able to attain the standard of living they’ve enjoyed because of the debt we are imposing on them.”
But if Toomey wants to decrease the deficit, he sure has a funny way of showing it. The Patriot News reported that Toomey’s legislative goals are “repeal the Obama administration’s health care reform law, impose no huge tax increases, oppose cap-and-trade energy legislation and make permanent the Bush-era tax cuts and extend them to top American earners.” None of these steps do anything to reduce the deficit, and two of them make it considerably worse:
— Repeal the Affordable Care Act: According to the Congressional Budget Office, repealing health care reform would add $143 billion to the deficit.
— Permanently extend the Bush tax cuts: The entire tax cut package costs more than $3 trillion. Extending just the cuts for the wealthiest two percent of households — which President Obama wants to see expire — costs $830 billion.
— Oppose cap-and-trade: According to the CBO, Sen. John Kerry’s (D-MA) cap-and-trade plan would reduce the deficit by $19 billion over the next ten years and not increase the deficit at all for the next forty years.
If Toomey is against “huge tax increases,” is he endorsing little ones? In any case, no serious analyst believes that the budget can be balanced on the spending side alone (as doing so would require draconian cuts to highly popular and vital programs). As former Reagan economic official Bruce Bartlett wrote, “the idea that we can or even should embark on serious deficit reduction with no tax increase whatsoever is grossly immature and unworthy of consideration.”
So Toomey, after paying the necessary lip service to cutting spending, embraced a legislative agenda that would cause the deficit to explode, and explicitly ruled out raising any revenue to offset his humongous expenditures. He’s either clueless about the effect of his proposals or he’s simply a deficit peacock who is more interested in ginning up anxieties about the deficit than in actually taking the necessary steps to bring it down.