Budget shell game

In the Washington Post today, E.J. Dionne has a must-read column about, of all things, arcane budget details. Republicans in the House and Senate are trying to fiddle with their schedules so that they don’t have to consider tax cuts and spending cuts at the same time—precisely so that the two don’t get linked in the public eye. The reasoning goes like this: tax cuts get made because, well, that’s what happens, and then much later on, spending cuts must be made because of that huge, yawning deficit that somehow magically appeared out of nowhere. It’s a neat trick, and this way the trade-off between dividend tax cuts for investors on the one hand, and cuts in health care for low-income mothers and children on the other, never gets made explicit.

Meanwhile, Mark Schmitt points out the odd hypocrisy of some of the so-called “responsible Republicans” who are voting for free tax cuts one moment, but then refuse any unpopular spending cuts the next. Precisely where do they think the money comes from?