When you listen to the conservative talking points, the bloviators, the political ads that sap untold billions from productive use, the one topic about which everyone has heard ad nauseum, is the national debt. Evil, nasty, "something's got to be done", "not living within our means". The associated term is deficit. The deficit, of course, is loosely speaking the excess of government spending over government income. The national debt is the total of all our past expenditures less all our past revenues, carried back to the beginning of the republic. Years in which government spends more than it takes in (in the form of taxes of all kind: corporate, personal income, import duties, fines for wrongdoing, etc.) will cause the national debt to increase - we owe more after such years - and when we have more revenue than expenses (yes, it has happened, and not long ago, either), will cause the national debt to decrease. This is pretty simple math, and we all get the idea. Don't we?
The conservatives have sold an amazing number of people on the notion that our government is just a big household, and like a household, if we can not live within our means, we are obviously spending too much. Nobel prize-winning economist Paul Krugman explains why this is a silly and inappropriate analogy. I will not try to repeat or rehash his arguments here, as they are simple enough for anyone to understand. Yet enough people have subscribed to this analogy, repeated over and over like soap commercials, that the public dialog on the right is all about this terrible deficit and debt.
The conservatives' rants now start with the (false) premise that deficits per se are evil and proceed to their next talking point: If debt and deficit are evil, the only way to exorcize the evil is through reducing government spending, which would then "allow" taxes to be reduced. So the age-old conservative mantra and cure-all remedy, dating back to Saint Ronnie in the 1980s, is again the rallying cry in 2012.
Tax cuts: liberate capital, create jobs, cure the common cold, cancer and acne!
The right's arguments are the same, and every time the congress has swallowed the miracle drug of tax cuts, the promised economic nirvana has failed to materialize. It's never because the benefactors of the tax cuts, the richer, the more lavish the benefits, just take the money and run, or run a new yacht, or a new airplane. But it's always something. That darned war of choice against Iraq, those heinous 19 terrorists taking down the World Trade Center and damaging the Pentagon, or something else diverted the savings, drove up the deficit (and the debt), and left us more in the hole than we were before.
So when a conservative says that taxes need to be lowered AND the deficit reduced or eliminated, an appropriate response would be a horse laugh.