Where Does Karl Rove Find the Nerve to Criticize Anyone About Deficits?
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When Karl Rove helped run the White House, he accepted certain beliefs as truths. He believed, for example, turning massive surpluses into massive deficits was entirely reasonable. He believed reckless tax cuts for the already rich were an example of responsible governing. He believed expanding the size of government, adding to entitlements, increasing the federal role in education, and putting it all on future generations' tab, was perfectly sensible. He believed fiscal responsibility was a punch-line.
And now that Karl Rove is outside the White House, he believes he's entitled to complain about deficits from his perch in the media establishment.
What seems to concern the president is not the problem runaway spending poses for taxpayers and the economy. Rather, what bothers him is the political problem it poses for Democrats.
Last year, Mr. Obama made fiscal restraint a constant theme of his presidential campaign. "Washington will have to tighten its belt and put off spending," he said back then, while pledging to "go through the federal budget, line by line, ending programs that we don't need." Voters found this fiscal conservatism reassuring.
However, since taking office Mr. Obama pushed through a $787 billion stimulus, a $33 billion expansion of the child health program known as S-chip, a $410 billion omnibus appropriations spending bill, and an $80 billion car company bailout. He also pushed a $821 billion cap-and-trade bill through the House and is now urging Congress to pass a nearly $1 trillion health-care bill.
Rove wants to see an "honest appraisal" of where we are. Good idea. The stimulus was necessary because Rove's old boss left the president an economy on the verge of wholesale collapse. S-CHIP expansion was necessary because Rove's old boss rejected a bipartisan measure to help low-income children go to the doctor. Rescuing the auto industry was necessary because it was a continuation of Rove's old boss' policy and the nation couldn't afford to cut off American manufacturing at the knees at the height of the recession. Cap and trade, Rove neglected to mention, wouldn't add to the deficit, and is necessary because Rove's old boss ignored the climate crisis for eight years. The health care reform bill would cut the deficit significantly, and is necessary because Rove's old boss fiddled while the dysfunctional health care system got worse.
That's an "honest appraisal."
Steve Benen is "blogger in chief" of the popular Washington Monthly online blog, Political Animal . His background includes publishing The Carpetbagger Report, and writing for a variety of publications, including Talking Points Memo, The American Prospect, the Huffington Post, and The Guardian. He has also appeared on NPR's "Talk of the Nation," MSNBC's "Rachel Maddow Show," Air America Radio's "Sam Seder Show," and XM Radio's "POTUS '08."