Magic Astericks

Paul Krugman shines a light on the antics of the not-ready-for-prime-time party:

By now it’s a Republican Party tradition: Every year the party produces a budget that allegedly slashes deficits, but which turns out to contain a trillion-dollar “magic asterisk” — a line that promises huge spending cuts and/or revenue increases, but without explaining where the money is supposed to come from.

But the just-released budgets from the House and Senate majorities break new ground. Each contains not one but two trillion-dollar magic asterisks: one on spending, one on revenue. And that’s actually an understatement. If either budget were to become law, it would leave the federal government several trillion dollars deeper in debt than claimed, and that’s just in the first decade.

Krugman details the spending cuts that are specified–“savage” cuts in food stamps, Medicare and other programs upon which millions of Americans have come to rely. And of course, repeal of the hated “Obamacare.” Read through his column, and you have a picture of the priorities of people who have lost touch not just with reality, but with decency.

And that brings Krugman to his most important point, and one we should all ponder–especially those of us who called the GOP home before the party became a collection of radicalized, resentful inhabitants of an alternate reality.

It’s very important to realize that this isn’t normal political behavior. The George W. Bush administration was no slouch when it came to deceptive presentation of tax plans, but it was never this blatant. And the Obama administration has been remarkably scrupulous in its fiscal pronouncements.

O.K., I can already hear the snickering, but it’s the simple truth. Remember all the ridicule heaped on the spending projections in the Affordable Care Act? Actual spending is coming in well below expectations, and the Congressional Budget Office has marked its forecast for the next decade down by 20 percent. Remember the jeering when President Obama declared that he would cut the deficit in half by the end of his first term? Well, a sluggish economy delayed things, but only by a year. The deficit in calendar 2013 was less than half its 2009 level, and it has continued to fall.

Krugman can be fact-checked; his numbers are accurate. But as a scroll through Facebook or the comments section of your favorite news source will confirm, facts don’t matter. Evidence doesn’t matter.

Crazy rules. And it’s terrifying, because you can’t talk to crazy.


  1. Conservatives have this Reaganesque dream that if we can all pull together and our systems will operate effectively without money or staff – or that we don’t need systems or government. And there is NO cost associated with poor and unhealthy people as long as they are not on the dole. But they just keep running into the reality that none of it works and none of it will work. So they have a need to fabricate figures that support the dream in spite of all the evidence to the contrary. Acknowledgement of the disconnect would kill the dream, so they press on in their parallel universe.

  2. Makes sense–oops. I forgot; the current Republican party isn’t interested in making sense.

  3. Au contraire, Sheila. It’s working really, REALLY well. We’re just not the target group. Munitions and prisons are the growth industries in the US. Those are being fed with all the money that isn’t going to education, social programs, headstart, roads, infrastructure, etc. So as long as states like, say, Indiana, keep voting R and the Dems offer no real alternative, more of the same. Lots of shouting, and the same people keep getting richer.

  4. If Ted Cruz is applying for ACA, does this mean he will stop trying to repeal or defund it. Or…does it mean the GOP will drop Ted Cruz? Is a puzzlement!

  5. These days seem analogous to me of those leading up to the civil war. A battle between the will of the people and the influence of business then gathered around the concept of low cost labor from slaveholding. The tension then was only resolvable by civil war. Have we evolved enough further from that point?

    Back then the rest of the world didn’t care much about our family squabbles. Now they care deeply. But they are not in a position of influence so can only watch and hope for the extremists to realize what the rest of us do already and that’s the dysfunction that follows them like a shadow.

    So we Americans own the biggest stake in the outcome of our local issues but not all of it.

    The dream of extremists is resolution of the God issue. My God is more powerful than your God. We are entitled therefore to impose our culture on you.

    The venue for this resolution is a limited earth being consumed by unlimited growth of one species. Earth will of course win in the end. Our choice is among more and less traumatic paths to that win.

    Both our God and others Gods have told their children that they are entitled to prevail over not only other species but the children of a lessor God..

    Apparently they fail to mention that the loser will be all life, especially human.

  6. Yeah, isn’t it “asterisk”, or the plural, “asterisks”? Can you still fix it?

  7. Sheila refers to “magic asterisks” in the body of her blog. I pulled out my Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary and found “asteric: 1. not static, not stable or steady; 2. having little or no tendency to take a fixed or definite position or direction”

    “asterisk: little star…the character used in printing or writing as a reference mark, as an indication of the omission of letters or words, or to denote a hypotetical or nonoccurring linquistic form.”

    I suppose an argument could be made regarding that “k” at the end of the word “asterick” but I won’t argue with Sheila’s title of this blog. I can’t argue with the fact that “asteric” fits with the fact that the Republican budget gives “no tendency to take a fixed or definite position or direction” as to where this money is to come from. Also the definition of “not static, not stable or steady” does describe the current GOP.

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