Douglas Holtz-Eakin: Balancing the Budget Is Just a Sales Gimmick to Gut the Federal Government. And We Republicans Think It Will Work! [UPDATED]

But several right-leaning fiscal experts described a balanced budget as a tool to force a fractious Congress to tackle the nation’s long-term budget problems.

“It is important to reduce the debt, and balancing gets you there faster,” said Douglas Holtz-Eakin, a former director of the Congressional Budget Office and a prominent Republican economist. “That’s paramount.”

He said a balanced budget is a goal everyone could understand. “It gives Congress a way to say no,” he said. “Transparency and political buy-in are important, and people understand balanced budgets. It has a lot of virtues.”

So there we have it.  Balancing the budget is just a sales gimmick by Republicans to gut the federal government.  And they think it will work.  As both a sales gimmick and of course as a way to gut the federal government.  

People may understand what balanced budgets are, but they do not understand balanced budgets.  They would, if we had a president willing and able to explain such complexities to the masses, and to explain exactly what Holtz-Eakin just has, to the readers of today’s New York Times: that, while it is important to keep budget deficits below a certain level relative to revenue and relative to GDP over the long haul, it is not important to actually balance the federal budget. But the Republicans can convince the public that it is, because people understand the concept of balanced budgets, and can thereby, via semantics trickery, accomplish the Republican goal of gutting the federal government.

But we don’t.  Have a president who is willing and able to explain such complexities to the masses, that is.

We do, though, now have Douglas Holtz-Eakin, who has just provided a nice quote, should other Dem politicians recognize its value and decide to use it.  Here’s hoping.


UPDATE: Regular AB reader and commenter rjs and I just had the following exchange in the Comments to my post:

rjs:  as an economist, he should know that as long as we’re running trade defcits, it impossible for the feederal government to run a balanced budget while the private sector is deleveraging

Me:  He probably does know. But he also knows that the public doesn’t know that. (I didn’t.) And when you’re goal is really to gut the federal government, and you think you’ve found a way to con the public into thinking your goal is something else, that’s all that matters.

These people are downright diabolical.