I can’t say I ever thought I’d hear the following from a Republican politician, let alone one running for reelection on the same ticket as: 1) Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan, both of whom have called for massive tax cuts to the wealthiest Americans while defunding the government; and 2) George Allen, who is basically in line with Ryan’s budget blueprint — tax cuts for the rich, starve the government and drown it in the bathtub. Yet here’s Rep. Scott Rigell (R-2nd district VA), basically agreeing with everything we’ve been saying here at Blue Virginia for a long time now, and strongly disagreeing with Romney, Ryan and Allen.
1. Rigell pointed out, as we have many times, that “federal revenues are at an 11-year average of 16.9 percent of GDP, which he said was the lowest level since 1959.” Actually, as far as I can determine from government statistics, we’re currently closer to 15.8 percent of GDP (e.g., LOWER under Obama than under Bush, because Obama HAS CUT TAXES. Let me repeat: OBAMA HAS CUT TAXES). That means we’re actually at the lowest levels in terms of federal revenues since 1950, not 1959, but Rigell’s basically correct if you look at the 11-year average (not sure why he does that, though).
2. Rigell “said federal spending stands between 23 percent and 24 percent of GDP.” That’s also approximately correct, based on government statistics. Is this high historically? Not particularly. For instance, federal spending as a percent of GDP was at about 23 percent for much of Republican demigod Ronald Reagan’s presidency.
3. The gap between federal revenues, which are at a 62-year low, and federal spending, which is similar to what Reagan spent (as a share of GDP) in the mid 1980s, is huge; hence, the big deficits. Thank you, Bush tax cuts and Republican Great Recession!
4. As for the Ryan plan, it would make matters much, MUCH worse. According to Rep. Rigell, “the Ryan budget plan, which he has voted for, is ‘indefensible mathematically’ without ‘revenue enhancements.'” I’m almost tempted to say “No s*** Sherlock,” except that there are tens of millions of Faux “News” zombies out there – not to mention almost everybody attending the Teapublican Convention in the taxpayer-funded arena in Tampa – who actually believe that we can have massive NEW tax cuts, balance the budget, and not have disastrous cuts to Medicare, Social Security, Medicaid, and every other federal program (so much for homeland security, education, roads and bridges, technological R&D, environmental protection, the national parks, you name it).
Of course, the question that jumps out at me here is why Rigell is talking truth and making sense – not to mention totally undercutting the positions of Romney, Ryan, Allen, etc. – during a heated political campaign, but when he’s in Washington, DC, he votes completely opposite to all that? For instance, as a spokeperson for Rigell’s Democratic challenger (Paul Hirschbiel) says, “You can’t say you are serious about a bipartisan approach when you have voted seven times to protect subsidies for big oil companies.”
So what’s the deal, Rep. Rigell? Are you just pretending to be sane, reasonable, moderate, etc. for your tough reelection campaign, or is this a real conversion on the road to…ruin? Bottom line: actions speak louder than words, and we’ll all believe it when we see it. For now, extreme skepticism to Rigell’s burts of sanity appears to be the wise approach.