Saturday, October 28, 2006

Irrationality and the Republican Congress

Those who believe that the election is about accountability will be glad to know that at least one GOP congressman is willing to allocate responsibility for the ballooning national debt. As the Times Union reports, Rep. John Sweeney (NY-20) has fingered the culprit behind the budget deficits of the last five years, and his identity might surprise you:
"The deficit is actually a result of a recession that began in his [Clinton's] administration," he contended. "We are exponentially paying down the deficit in an accelerated time frame."
For those keeping score, Rep. Sweeney managed to pack two whoppers into just 25 words. The first assertion is easily refuted; the proximate causes of the deficit are the the tax cuts and the spending increases put in place by Bush and the GOP-controlled Congress.
As for the second assertion, one hardly knows where to start. It isn't possible to pay down the deficit, which is an annual phenomenon. Each year the government either posts a deficit or a surplus; an assertion that the deficit is being paid down, exponentially or otherwise, in any time frame you choose, is nonsensical. It is possible to pay down the national debt, but that requires budget surpluses, as happened in the late 1990s.
I know this drives Republicans crazy, but as Ronald Reagan once said, facts are stubborn things. Under President Clinton, the federal government posted four consecutive budget surpluses and reduced the national debt. Under President Bush, the federal government has posted nothing but deficits, adding to the national debt.
As Josh Marshall points out, Rep. Sweeney's lack of critical thought is matched only by his disdain for consistency:
Rep. John Sweeney (R), 6/8/06: "Zarqawi represents the insidious forces that we are fighting in the War on Terror. This is a critical example of why we must stay the course and finish this mission."
Rep. John Sweeney (R), 10/18/06 : "I think that the strategy of 'staying the course' is not a strategy at all. It doesn't work. There are going to have to be adjustments in any war if that is the case."
Why take the trouble to describe John Sweeney's shortcomings in the area of critical thinking? Because it's this kind of thinking that has gotten us into the current mess. If you think, Dick Cheney notwithstanding, that deficits do matter, then the only way to restore rational thinking to national policy is to return Congress to Democratic control.
There is among some a lingering hope that the presence of a few moderates like Mike Castle in the Republican caucus will somehow serve to counterbalance the irrationality of those in charge, but this hope has not been vindicated by events.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank God no one in NY-20 will probably read this.

6:59 PM, October 28, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

as Ronald Reagan once said, facts are stubborn things.

Oh, it's much better than that...

What Reagan actually said was: "Facts are STUPID things."

He was misquoting John Adams who said "Facts are stubborn things."

It wasn't the first time a Republican got the Founding Fathers wrong, and it won't be the last.

11:07 PM, October 28, 2006  
Blogger jason said...

Prideful stupidity is a virtue in the GOP. Today we find out that John Boner still thinks Bush and Rummy are doing a great job.

3:30 PM, October 29, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, as someone who lives in NY-20, I didn't need to read this blog to find out how awful Sweeney is. ;-) There is a lot of anger and disgust for him in this district.

6:33 PM, October 29, 2006  
Blogger Tom Noyes said...

Dave, as it turns out I've been getting quite a few hits from NY-20. Check out for a link to this post.

11:23 PM, October 29, 2006  

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