Let’s Get Fiscal

By Bill Maher

When Republicans aren't inventing straw men to attack President Obama (he hates success, he hates capitalism, he thinks Americans are stuck in their station in life, he's always apologizing for America, etc.) they're almost always attacking him for paying for his programs. Which, I know, sounds crazy because it's the fiscally responsible thing to do, and the Republicans are supposed to be the party of the fiscally responsible. But they're hypocrites like that. The standard isn't truth. It's saying anything that makes Obama look like a socialist who hates America. See: Dinesh D'Souza.

Take the attacks on Obama’s Medicare cuts. According to the Romney campaign, the $716 billion in Medicare cuts comes out of senior benefits (not true) that today's seniors paid into all of their lives (partially true because they use far more in benefits than they ever paid in) and then used that money to fund Obamacare.

...Okay, the last part is true. They used the savings from the Medicare cuts to providers and hospitals to offset the costs of Obamacare. Because unlike all of those programs and wars and tax cuts during the Bush administration, Obamacare is actually paid for. You see, in the fiscally responsible world that's supposed to be a good thing. It means you're not adding to the deficit. But when it comes to fiscal responsibility, Republicans are clearly frauds, so what do you expect? It's not as if they're going to say, "Okay, maybe we screwed up last time, but trust me -- this time is going to be different!"

Cut to Mitt Romney in Ohio: "We're going to finally have to do something that Republicans have spoken about for a long time and for a while we didn't do it. When we had the lead, we let people down. We need to make sure we don't let them down this time. I will cut the deficit and get us on track to a balanced budget."

...By slashing taxes for the rich and hiking defense spending.

Which brings us to the charge that Obama is raising taxes on the middle class. Which isn't really true because Obama's lowered taxes on the middle class. But like all of Romney and Ryan's lies, they're really not lies. They're wildly misleading claims hooked on to some small kernel of truth. Otherwise known as being "slimy."

This is how Paul Ryan gets to say that Obama went to that GM plant in his hometown and said it would stay open, and then it closed. Not mentioning, of course, that it closed before Obama took office, or that Ryan himself had lobbied GM to keep the plant open. But it is true that Obama went there in 2008 during the campaign and said something about keeping the plant open. That part is true. And that's enough truth to suggest that he's responsible for closing it. When you're a sleaze.

Same thing with the middle class tax increase. The kernel of truth there is that, as part of Obamacare, those who don't buy insurance have to pay a penalty, or as John Roberts calls it "a tax." And some of those people will be in the middle class. Hence, "middle class tax increase." See how they did that?

But that's basically how Obamacare is paid for: a combination of cuts to Medicare providers and through a series of tax increases. Which, again, is the fiscally responsible thing to do -- to pay for your programs. But the Romney campaign uses that kernel to suggest that Obama has raised the taxes on everyone in the middle class, when the truth is he's lowered them, except for people who won't buy health insurance. Also known as free riders.

Health care mandate? The mechanism we use to pay for all of those people with pre-existing conditions everyone wants to cover. Because in life, benefits come with costs.

"Cap and trade" is also part of this conservative attack. But again, these are taxes going to address a serious problem -- the world catching fire. Or think of it this way: if your roof leaks, you have to spend money to fix it. Your car won't start, same thing: you have to pay money to fix it. Only in the conservative bubble can you address serious problems by not paying for them -- i.e. cutting taxes.

The problem with all of this is that the Democrats, being the party that pays for their programs -- dare I say the "party of fiscal responsibility" -- comes with a political price. And it's that we're a "tastes great, less filling" country that has gotten used to putting everything we do on the national credit card. We didn't pay for Iraq, Afghanistan, the Bush tax cuts, the prescription drug entitlement program -- none of it. Which is sweet! Especially if you're going to die before the bill comes due.

You see, if you give voters stuff for free, they like it a lot better than when you give them something and charge them the cost of that thing you just gave them. Which used to be called responsible, but now is called "socialism."