Huffpost Politics
THE BLOG

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors

Michael Wolkowitz Headshot

Remember the Deficit? A Solution.

Posted: Updated:
Print

Over the last few years there has been an expensive and effective national campaign to convince the American people that The Deficit is the number one threat to our way of life. The Republicans did not win the Presidency, the Senate or a majority of the votes cast in races for the House of Representatives. But they have made fear of a big and increasing deficit pretty toxic for one and all. When was the last time you heard an openly pro-deficit-spending statement from a Democrat seeking office?

How many people have fallen for the "it's just like household credit card and mortgage debt" analogy? How many believe that "sooner or later you will either go bankrupt and live in the slums (America as third-world country) unless the loan sharks (China) get you first" theory of economics? It is a pretty easy-to-understand message, and our collective brain has been washed.

The right-wing has not succeeded in doing the same thing with anything else. Not-So-Toxic: immigration, reproductive rights, gender equality, and the climate crisis; decreasingly by the day, The ACA. They do ok with some domestic programs that cost money like Head Start and Food Stamps, but only in the context of The Dreaded Deficit. The Deficit is the most saleable reason that, sad as it is, we cannot stop laying-off government workers, must not invest in our infrastructure or education, house the poor or feed the hungry.

But, uh-oh, a big problem has developed. The Deficit they turned into the bogey-person of bogey-people, has been cut in half by the evil Democrats.

That is an existential threat to a Republican Party that has put so many chips on The Deficit. It undercuts their most powerful weapon. That, for them, is what is best of all about the shutdown and holding the debt ceiling measure hostage. They increase . . . The Deficit!

The shutdown costs lots of money everyday. Even the threat of a refusal to raise the debt ceiling is playing some havoc with markets and exchange rates and has helped push interest rates higher. That havoc and those hikes will continue to grow day by day. They will expand exponentially if we default on our debt. All of that is a big help, politically, for the right and the Republican Party. They really do need a big fat dangerous Deficit to run on in both 2014 and especially 2016.

There is a much easier and less painful way to have The Deficit balloon and give the Republicans in Congress what they want so badly. Let the Democrats tax and spend the way they would like to. Good for the corporate sector, great for increasing the deficit. Sure lots of people would get the healthcare, food and shelter they need and don't have; Republicans could hold their noses and live with that. As long as they remember the big goal - an increasing, ever more threatening Deficit that will carry the day for them in elections.

If we see the deficit increase thanks to the shutdown and debt ceiling battle, the Republicans might wind up with at least an equal share of the blame for increasing The Deficit. If they surrendered, saying they cannot do the people's will without the Senate and the White House, they could let the Democrats do the work for them; tax the wealthy, stop subsidizing industries like fossil fuel and big farming, rehire some government workers and spend money on social welfare . . . BINGO! The deficit goes up, the markets and their post-Citizens United funders will roll merrily along. Come election time(s) the Republicans can point legitimate fingers at the Democrats for having increased The Deficit.

C'mon Republicans, take the easy way out: let the Democrats have their way and guarantee your ability to blame them for everything that is wrong, especially . . . The Deficit