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“Deep-Six The Deficit Commission Report” TNR November 11 “Why The Left Is Wrong About The Deficit Commission” TNR November 12 “In Defense of the Deficit Commission” TNR November 13 “Laffer Track” TNR November 22
The Bowles-Simpson deficit commission is a thinly-veiled plot to permanently slash taxes on the rich. This it shares in common with the entire doggone debt-freakout paranoiathon its Power Point prescription rode in on. If that sounds perverse it’s because it is, but as Dean Baker pointed out two weeks ago the commission would never exist had the president not committed the original sin of accepting the fundamentally ridiculous idea that the current situation is the sort of economic environment in which it is anything other than decisively counterproductive to cut government spending.
Cutting government spending is of course only one way of reducing the deficit; there is also the option of raising taxes, which, considering that the top earning one percent of Americans who take in 25% of the national income has largely been immune to the nation’s economic woes, actually makes sense. But raising taxes is obviously out of the question in a climate during which we are told that merely allowing tax cuts for the wealthy to expire is politically impossible. And why is it impossible? Because “serious” men who care first and foremost about the deficit, serious men who happen to be billionaires like Pete Peterson who have pledged a billion dollars to raising awareness of the pressing non-problem of the budget deficit, say it is.
The left has grown weary of being accused of unhelpfully “demonizing” Peterson every time it attempts to lay out what a carnival of intellectual dishonesty this whole charade has from start to finish been. “On an ideological level, caricatures of Peterson as Grover Norquist-lite do not stand up to scrutiny,” wrote a typical “centrist” on The Daily Beast a few months back, and he had a point: Peterson is far wealthier and more mendacious than Norquist—those things may even go together—and he is so successfully both that earlier this fall the nation’s most vociferous “deficit hawk” appeared in public flanking Evan Bayh as the “centrist” Democratic senator announced his support for the extension of the Bush tax cuts on billionaires like Pete Peterson. Consider that for a second: here is a guy who has successfully branded tax cuts for the rich as the prudent way of going about the difficult business of “balancing America’s budget.” How is anyone at TNR supposed to compete with that sort of power of persuasion?