What would David Dreier do without Osama bin Laden?
Harsh words? Perhaps. But painfully apt. David Dreier is the hail-fellow-well-met congressman from the small patch of LA suburbs where I grew up. Today he was on Wolf Blitzer's show debating the economy and the deficit with South Carolina Congressman John Spratt. Every time Spratt explained that the president's tax cut had created vast new federal deficits over the next decade (just as Democrats said it would) Dreier jumped in with a 'that was all before September 11th.' Clear meaning: the bleak fiscal picture is fallout from September 11th. Don't blame us.
But even White House budget analysts don't believe this. They say some 40% of the decline in the projected ten-year surplus is directly due to the president's tax cut -- numbers which are themselves likely understated. Spending on defense and homeland security is but a small part of the equation.
But isn't the recession responsible for the red ink, you might ask? Not a valid argument. Go back and look at the debates. The premise of the opposition was that the surplus numbers would fall substantially in the next economic downturn. A big tax cut on top of that would throw us back into the deficit era. As, indeed, it did. The central fact of politics today is that the president rammed through a tax cut which he said wouldn't create deficits. The opposition said it would. Now the evidence is in; the president was wrong; and the country is paying the price. Dreier and other administration apologists are trying to pass it off on Osama bin Laden. It's not true. They know it's not true. And it won't work. But there's no other argument left.