What has happened to the deficit hawks who used to dominate the Republican Party?
They have become chicken hawks, or just plain chicken.
Congressional Republicans used to rant, rail and express rage over budget deficits. Ronald Reagan derived a lot political advantage in 1980 by ridiculing the $40 billion budget deficit run up annually during the Carter administration.
Fast-forward to the present day.
Republicans are going to enact a tax cut that will blow up the deficit. It will add $1 trillion — or so — to the deficit over the next decade. That’s $100 billion annually.
But here’s the ironic aspect of this deficit business.
A Democratic president, Bill Clinton, managed to craft a budget that produced a surplus by the end of his presidency. He had help from Republicans in Congress, but the point is that the president and the GOP congressional leadership managed to cooperate and work together for a common good.
Another Democrat, Barack Obama, also managed to take huge bites out of a trillion-dollar-plus annual budget deficit. By the time President Obama left office, the budget deficit had been slashed by about two-thirds annually.
There were tax increases along with targeted budget cuts.
Did the GOP members of Congress give the president any credit? Nope. Didn’t happen. They instead changed the subject by targeting the Affordable Care Act, concocting reports of “dismal failure.”
But here we are today. A new president has taken over. He has sought desperately to achieve some kind of legislative “victory.” Republicans in both congressional chambers are poised to give it to him.
At what cost? Oh, yes. The deficit is set to grow once again. The one-time Party of Fiscal Responsibility has changed it stripes.