by Paul Goldman
By voting against the tax deal because it added nearly $1 trillion to the skyrocketing national debt, Congressman Jim Moran has to be considered the big winner. It was a principled vote, for the polls show his area, one of the wealthiest in the nation, overwhelming favored the legislation. A cynic might say he knew the bill would pass anyway, and so his vote was actually a matter of political calculation based on internal Capitol Hill politics. There is no way to disprove the latter, but it deserves to be considered a principled vote until proven otherwise. Sooner or later, there is no way to keep saying YES to more red ink, and at the same time say NO to a higher deficit. At some point, a serious fiscal person will have to vote against what is popular in the polls, or vote for what is unpopular. History says it isn’t easy. So give Moran credit, he has put his toe in the water: let’s see if he is willing to go swimming, right now alone.
In that regard, does anyone doubt Tom Perriello, based on his claim of being a principled politician, would have voted NO but for the fact he is now under consideration for a job at the White House? The most anti-Bushonomics Congressional candidate last year, in Virginia at least, Mr. Perriello and his followers basically mocked others in the state and country who didn’t have his principled “guts.” How does this square with breaking the pledge made to citizens in running and winning in 2008? It doesn’t. This doesn’t make Tom a bad guy, just human. But it does say he needs to leave the High Horse in the barn in Albemarle County before riding off to political events. Don’t worry Tom, the air down here where us mortals live is safe to breathe, and after awhile, you will find that we aren’t all that bad, not purists for sure, but we still do manage to do a good thing every now and then. Tom makes a good choice for the White House. But not Mt. Rushmore anymore.
As for the deficit hawks, they were reduced to the old crows that use to gather at Ebbets Field in Brooklyn after the Dodgers lost to the Yankees in the World Series, providing the musical backdrop to the cry: “Wait ’til next year.” They say the bad economy left them no choice but to add a $1 trillion to the national debt. But they promise when their medicine works next year, they will be on the front lines in 2011 and 2012 willing take the tough votes required of deficit hawks.
Baseball wise, the crows in Brooklyn were eventually right, the Dodgers beat the Yankees once. The President’s Deficit Commission, whose proposals were considered very tough, only promised to cut the deficit by a few trillion dollars in the near term. The deficit hawks just raised it by yet another $1 trillion.
So the question is: When all is said and done, is it not possible the “deficit hawks” just might wind-up trying to take credit for reducing the deficit by the very amount, or nearly so, they just raised it?
Eventually, the “deficit hawks” will be able to do more than just emulate those Ebbets’ Field crows. But the bigger winners were always at House Ruth Built.