Tuesday, May 27, 2003

It occurs to me that the real-life GOP policy that most resembles Orwell's "We are not at war with Eurasia. We are at war with Eastasia. We have always been at war with Eastasia" isn't the one-war-after-another approach to international relations (addition isn't really the same as substitution), but the policy on budget deficits. USA Today points this out today to traveling salesmen all over America:

The current president's tax cut also would have been impossible if the House Republican majority that arrived in 1995 had passed the first piece of legislation proposed in its ''Contract with America'' campaign document.

Spurred by Newt Gingrich, the Georgia Republican who became speaker of the House for two terms, conservative House Republicans wanted to pass a constitutional amendment requiring that the president propose a balanced federal budget each year and that Congress enforce it.

...''If Newt Gingrich and friends had been successful in implementing their 'Contract with America,' everything they do this year would be illegal,' '' [Stan] Collender [of the Federal Budget Consulting Group] said. ''The president would have to submit a balanced budget. They couldn't increase the debt. That's a real turnabout. It's an abandonment of discipline.''

...Republicans who wrote the tax-cut legislation acknowledged it will require more borrowing. House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Bill Thomas, R-Calif., said the borrowing is warranted by the costs of war and terrorism and the struggling economy. He called it ''an investment deficit.''

''You can spend a deficit dollar in peace as an investment in national strength, (to) make sure the economy is strong,'' Thomas said.

Thomas, of course, endorsed the Contract with America, including the "Fiscal Responsibility Act" (which called for "a balanced budget/tax limitation amendment ... to restore fiscal responsibility to an out-of-control Congress, requiring them to live under the same budget constraints as families and businesses"). Can you think of any Repubs from that period who didn't?

(UPDATE: When I first posted this, I omitted the USA Today link. It's there now.)

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