...Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who appears to spend more time on Sunday shows than in the Senate, said he's open to some revenues as a way to replace the sequester, but added, "[W]e have raised taxes. Why do we have to raise taxes again?"
Of course, by that logic, there's no reason not to ask, "We have cut spending. Why do we have to cut spending again?"
The question behind these questions is "what future are you preparing for?"
See, it works like this: right now, a major driver of our deficits is unemployment. Employment has been rising, but joblessness is still a major problem. If government is running higher than normal deficits, while cutting spending, it's because there's a revenue shortage caused by all these people out there without income. Contrary to what rightwing hacks tell you, we don't have a spending problem. The problem is that a large chunk the tax base has shrunk.
If you were to cut spending to match this shrunken tax base, that would mean you're preparing for a future where these levels of unemployment are the new normal. After all, cutting spending means cutting demand, which in turn means unemployment. Republicans like to say that it's a bad idea to raise taxes in a recovering economy, but the truth is that it's a much, much worse idea to cut spending when economic times are tight -- which is what Republicans always seem to want to do in their panicky, reactionary little hearts. The plane isn't actually crashing -- we've cleared that danger, it's just some turbulence now -- but Republicans in their reactionary fervor want to tear out seats, jettison luggage, and throw a few stewardesses out the hatch to lighten the load. What Republicans are doing here is literally cheerleading economic panic, in order to score some cheap political points with the few remaining nutjobs still willing to vote for them.
If you want to prepare for -- and ensure -- a brighter future than Republicans imagine, you raise taxes in a targeted way, to pay for normal levels of spending. Those who do most of the heavy lifting in our economy -- the consumers -- should get the lightest burden and those who merely profit off the money spent by consumers -- the suppliers -- should get the heavier burden. Progressive taxation works.
But the future Republicans would have us prepare for is a self-fulfilling prophecy. As I said, cutting spending is attacking demand. What Republicans want to do is make the economy fit the joblessness, rather than prepare the nation for growth. It's like taking a goldfish out of a big bowl and putting it into a much smaller one. The fish fits the fishbowl better now, but you've stunted its growth. It'll never get any bigger. Not only would they be preparing for a future without job growth, they'd be ensuring it.
Republicans have pinned all their political hopes on one simple strategy -- they used to pair it with a racist southern strategy, but that's dead now. And that one remaining strategy is to operate as if everything Democrats say is wrong. It's gotten so bad that they're rejecting science left and right, while lecturing everyone on the blessed gift of being impregnated by a rapist. They've become so contrarian that they've driven themselves quite insane and they're still charging ahead with it. But the first step on this road to fact-free madness was taken by Reagan himself, when he declared the laws of supply and demand repealed and introduced the world to the magical wonders of trickle-down economics. Left was right, up was down, day was night, and employers -- not consumers -- were suddenly the "job creators." It's a lie that's scarred American politics since.
And it's a lie that's become a religion. Republicans no longer see supply-side economics as a scam to get more money to political donors. They've fallen for their own flim-flammery. And they're busy preparing America for glorious second coming of trickle-down, where jobs are few -- and kept few by slashing spending every time the sun shines and again every time it rains. A wonderful new normal, which looks exactly like today and maybe -- just maybe if they're really good and really lucky -- even a little worse. Because high unemployment is good for employers. It makes workers plentiful and keeps wages low. And if Americans don't have a lot of money to spend on the goods and services they produce, then America is not the only country in the world.
Besides, liberals are against it, which means it must be fantastic, right?