The truth about Republican spending cuts

Ezra Klein interviewed Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform and one of the conservatives behind the Tea Party movement. During that interview, Norquist (he of “drown it in the bathtub” infamy) let slip a revealing truth about the goal of Republicans in the current debate over spending cuts when Klein asked him about his total opposition to tax cuts in light of the stated urgency over the deficit: “The goal is to reduce the size and scope of government spending, not to focus on the deficit.”

This is not what Republicans say, of course, but it is the truth. As Sen. Chuck Schumer pointed out the other day, “Right now a very small, very intense ideological tail is wagging the dog over in the House of Representatives. Their fervor for spending cuts is not grounded in deficit reduction at all. Instead the far right wing has deliberately confused two separate issues. They’ve conflated reducing the deficit — which is not their true priority — with cutting government — which is.”

Schumer is calling the bluff, though, and proposing a far broader approach – which could actually make a difference – involving discretionary spending, entitlement reform and revenue increases.

Norquist won’t like it, and neither will other Republicans. And that will just be further proof that concern for the deficit masks the true goal: Reducing the size of the government, at whatever cost. Of course, when Republicans go to the mat for billions of dollars in subsidies for the oil industry – when even industry execs say they don’t need the money – further proof shouldn’t be necessary.

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