Dino Rossi, the Republican Senate nominee in Washington, has already made his penchant for economic voodoo apparent by falsely claiming that the estate tax will affect huge numbers of small businesses and inflating his state’s wealthy population by 24 times in an attempt to fearmonger about the effects of the expiring Bush tax cuts. And Rossi doesn’t seem to have it any more together when it comes to deficit reduction, as evidenced by some of his rhetoric on the campaign trail yesterday:
Rossi said the nation is on a “fiscal cliff,” and accused [Sen. Patty] Murray of being one of the people who brought the economy to the brink with deficit spending and industry bailouts. He said he would extend tax cuts made by Congress in 2001 and 2003, repeal the health reform law and work to reduce burdensome regulations on business if elected.
Of course, if one is truly concerned about a “fiscal cliff,” one would probably want to avoid implementing budget-busting tax cuts or repealing measures that actually reduce the deficit. But Rossi here is advocating for both.
Extending the Bush tax cuts for the rich — rather than letting them expire as the Obama administration has proposed — will add $830 billion to the deficit over the next ten years, all to the benefit of the richest two percent of Americans. Repealing the Affordable Care Act, meanwhile, would actually add $143 billion to the deficit, according to the latest estimate from the Congressional Budget Office.
The deficit reduction plan Rossi listed on his website isn’t any more inspiring. His first idea — canceling the remaining TARP and Recovery Act funds — goes after two short-term programs that have no effect on the structural deficit. His two other ideas are a constitutional balanced budget amendment (which is a pipe dream that even conservatives realize would be an economic disaster) and cutting government pay.
The real drivers of the deficit — health care spending, huge tax cuts, and defense spending — don’t warrant a mention. But that’s because Rossi is far more interested in using the deficit to score political points than he is in making any serious decisions about getting that deficit under control.