Deficits: Don’t Blame Bush

Via Kevin Drum comes another round of excuses from the National Review – this time from some fellow named J. Edward Carter. Who is J. Edward Carter? Kevin explains:

But who is J. Edward Carter? His tagline says, mysteriously, only that “Mr. Carter is an economist in Washington, D.C.” What does that J stand for? Answer: James. He’s James E. Carter, deputy undersecretary for international affairs in the Department of Labor. In other words, a political appointee in the Bush administration. I wonder why National Review didn’t want anyone to know this?

But let’s hear Mr. Carter out as he has two lines of “reasoning”. His second and third “clues” as to why the January 2001 CBO surplus of $5.6 trillion in unified budget surpluses over the first decade of the 21st century did not materialize basically goes like this – we haven’t had this kind of surplus in a long time and the policymakers (that’d be President Bush and a GOP dominated Congress) never intended to let this sustained surplus last. Well, no sh*t Sherlock as President Bush had no intention of maintaining the commitment to pre-fund Social Security. In other words, his intent all along was to be fiscally irresponsible. But let’s also consider his first “clue”:

The $5.6 trillion surplus was a mirage. It never existed. The CBO based its surplus estimate on the existing tax and spending laws and on an economic forecast that simply did not stand the test of time.

Absolutely correct. Carter correctly notes that Bush’s tax cuts lowered tax revenues. Something his NRO colleagues are still trying to deny. But Carter does spin this too much on the spending increase side as opposed to the lost revenue side. Carter’s argument seems to be – don’t blame Bush for the fact that the rubber stamp Congress gave him exactly what he asked for. While we are at it – let’s not blame Bush for Iraq as it was Congress that went along and the Generals who followed his orders.

Update: One of Kevin’s readers found the bio for James Carter, which reads in part:

He holds a master’s degree in public administration from George Mason University and a bachelor’s degree in political science from Truman State University. Carter has authored more than 70 articles in such publications as Investor’s Business Daily, The Washington Times, USA Today, National Review and the New York Post.

The National Review thinks Carter is an economist? I seriously doubt the economics faculty at this fine school is about to give him a tenure track offer.

Update II: The Montana GOP is running an ad called BrokeBank Democrats. You see – the GOP is saying that this Jon Tester’s “nature” has nothing to do with sexual orientation but it has to do with the fact that Tester is not in favor of more tax cuts. If so – the ad has this backwards, however, as the GOP drive for cutting taxes while raising spending is what really is breaking the bank.