Notes on the Atrocities
Like a 100-watt radio station, broadcasting to the dozens...

Monday, June 09, 2003  

Things are going to be a bit spotty here on Notes this week. I'll try to post interesting tidbits I find in the brief caesuras of leisure I'll have over the next week or so, but probably not much commentary or analysis. Apropos of that, did you see this article in the Times Magazine? Interesting stuff.

Over the course of the 1980's, under the influence of this revolution, what grew most was federal debt, from 26 to 42 percent of G.D.P. During the next decade, Republican leaders became less conditional in their advocacy. Since 2001, the fiscal strategizing of the party has ascended to a new level of fiscal irresponsibility. For the first time ever, a Republican leadership in complete control of our national government is advocating a huge and virtually endless policy of debt creation.

The numbers are simply breathtaking. When President George W. Bush entered office, the 10-year budget balance was officially projected to be a surplus of $5.6 trillion -- a vast boon to future generations that Republican leaders ''firmly promised'' would be committed to their benefit by, for example, prefinancing the future cost of Social Security. Those promises were quickly forgotten. A large tax cut and continued spending growth, combined with a recession, the shock of 9/11 and the bursting of the stock-market bubble, pulled that surplus down to a mere $1 trillion by the end of 2002. Unfazed by this turnaround, the Bush administration proposed a second tax-cut package in 2003 in the face of huge new fiscal demands, including a war in Iraq and an urgent ''homeland security'' agenda. By midyear, prudent forecasters pegged the 10-year fiscal projection at a deficit of well over $4 trillion.

Krugman or one of his ilk, right? Ah, no. Actually, that's Peter G. Peterson, Republican and former Secretary of Commerce under Nixon. The article is mainly about how the Republican Party has abandoned its historical philosophy at the alter of Reaganomics. Toward the end, though, he takes a shot or two at the Democrats and offers some thoughts about the malaise affecting both parties.

What exactly gave rise to this bipartisan flight from integrity and responsibility -- and when? My own theory, for what it's worth, is that it got started during the ''Me Decade,'' the 1970's, when a socially fragmenting America began to gravitate around a myriad of interest groups, each more fixated on pursuing and financing, through massive political campaign contributions, its own agenda than on safeguarding the common good of the nation. Political parties, rather than helping to transcend these fissures and bind the country together, instead began to cater to them and ultimately sold themselves out.

You might give it a look.

posted by Jeff | 10:19 AM |
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