The Washington Independent
The Washington Independent

Deficits and Small-Government Republicans: A Love Story

Deficits give Republicans the political cover to cut social programs they always hated anyway.

Elisa Mueller
Last updated: Jul 31, 2020 | Feb 22, 2010

When it comes to President Obama’s 2011 budget, Republicans deplore deficits. They don’t like spending money (even if it’s to help Americans struggling to find work or keep their homes) except when they can extol the virtues of the pork projects the Democrats’ votes help them bring home. But they have a dirty little secret: The self-same deficits give them the political cover they crave to cut government services they don’t personally need, so they don’t mind them that much.

A case in point is scandal-plagued Nevada governor Jim Gibbons, who plans to use his state’s budget deficit to “reinvent” Nevada’s already-meager government.

“We may never have an opportunity like this again,” he said.

The opportunity presenting itself to Gibbons is to slash services in the state. On the chopping block: a college scholarship reserve fund; state workers’ salaries; elementary and secondary education; Medicaid coverage for glasses, hearing aids and dental care; and day care programs for disabled adults. Oh, and he might eliminate some tax deductions for mining companies, which would amount to 25 percent of the cuts in Nevada children’s educational programs.

Anti-tax Republicans often push for tax cuts without concomitant service cuts because cuts in services are far less politically popular, particularly in the good economic times that encourage politicians to enact tax cuts. But it’s not that they are bad at math; they instead just believe that they can “starve the beast” of government by limiting its access to funds. Never mind that “starving the beast” rarely works even when Republicans control the government and that often even Republican governments will actually raise taxes rather than cut needed services — anti-tax Republicans will continue to advocate that cutting taxes is just the first step to cutting unnecessary spending.

Of course, what a relatively wealthy Republican considers “unnecessary” spending should give many Americans pause. As Glenn Greenwald pointed out this weekend, Republicans are more than happy to preside over the largest expansion of government since World War II if it involves wars or government surveillance. But, as Gibbons proves, they’ll pare down dental care for people who can’t afford health insurance, they’ll “starve the beast” of public education and they’ll make sure low-income people with hearing impairments can’t get hearing aids on the government dime (even if those hearing aids can help them get a job). And then they’ll celebrate the “opportunity” to “reinvent” government.

Elisa Mueller | Elisa Mueller was born in Kansas City, Missouri, to a mother who taught reading and a father who taught film. As a result, she spent an excessive amount of her childhood reading books and watching movies. She went to the University of Kansas for college, where she earned bachelor's degrees in English and journalism. She moved to New York City and worked for Entertainment Weekly magazine for ten years, visiting film sets all over the world.


$1.89 billion given to states to fight HIV

The federal government Monday announced more than $1.89 billion in funding to states to fight the HIV epidemic with access to care and with more cash for the failing AIDS Drug Assistance Program. According to an HHS press release , $813 million of that money will go directly to the ADAP programming. An additional $8,386,340 will be issued as a supplement to 36 states and territories currently facing a litany of unmet needs and access issues.

Army Data Shows Constraints on Troop Increase Potential

If President Obama orders an additional 30,000 to 40,000 troops to Afghanistan, he will be deploying practically every available U.S. Army brigade to war, leaving few units in reserve in case of an unforeseen emergency and further stressing a force that has seen repeated combat deployments since 2002.

1. Brian Schweitzer

As governor of Montana, Schweitzer doesn’t represent one of the most highly populated, high-profile electoral states in the country. But this

$1.3 Million for Brown

The GOP’s candidate in the Massachusetts special election raised more than one million dollars -- double the goal -- in a 24-hour moneybomb on the Ron Paul

$1.3 trillion in federal spending unaccounted for, report finds

Despite calls for independent bodies to keep government accountable, the Sunlight Foundation’s most recent Clearspending report has found the federal

#1 in Conspiracy Theories

Andrew Young’s tell-all biography of John Edwards, hitting shelves next week, is surging in one category in particular. #1 in Conspiracy

1 Brigade and 1 Battalion

ISTANBUL – It’s 10 p.m. in the lowest level of the Istanbul airport. In 20 minutes I’ll be allowed to board my plane to Kabul, bringing me to the

$1 Million for Toomey

Pat Toomey, the former Club for Growth president and leading Republican candidate in Pennsylvania’s 2010 Senate race, has announced a $1 million haul in the

1. Lindsey Graham

Sen. Graham (R-S.C.) is typically regarded as a reliable vote for his party, but he took the bold step of breaking with his fellow Republicans to join Kerry

Bachmann uncomfortable over earmarks ban

Republicans appear to have boxed themselves into a corner with their portrayal of earmarks as wasteful spending, as many of them have backed a moratorium on

Troubled mine holds hope for U.S. rare earth industry

China currently controls 97 percent of the world’s rare earth production. The Mountain Pass Mine could change that -- if it can overcome serious environmental concerns.

© Copyright 2021 The Washington Independent All Rights Reserved

Terms & Privacy |