…because I’m an economist and a mom–that’s why!

The “Pledge” Is No Promise for Deficit Reduction

September 28th, 2010 . by economistmom


My boss at Concord, Bob Bixby, explains on the Tabulation blog why the House GOP’s “Pledge to America” is politically appealing but lacking in solid and smart policy ideas:

Last week, House Republicans offered a “Pledge To America” outlining their fiscal priorities and reform ideas. As with most such campaign manifestos, it is long on base-pleasing rhetoric and short on troublesome details.

The document correctly warns about the dire fiscal outlook and the potential dangers of escalating deficits and debt. Conspicuously missing from the Pledge, however, is any plan to bring deficits down to a sustainable level or even to improve upon the deficit projections in the President’s budget. It is worth noting that such a plan has also been missing from Congressional Democrats this year because Congress has failed to pass a budget resolution.

The net effect of the Pledge policies would do very little, if anything, to rein in our long-term structural budget deficits and may well lead to deficits even higher than under the President’s budget.

In other words, the “Pledge,” like all effective campaign rhetoric (coming from both sides of the aisle), is good looking on the surface but devoid of meaningful substance inside.  You know, it’s like someone who’s really primped up and might win your affection for one night while you’re drunk or otherwise not thinking or seeing them in really dim light. The trouble is that these days most of us act like a bunch of drunken, irrational, nearsighted voters, so politicians believe this is a winning strategy.  But wait until we wake up in the morning and get a good look at our “date” in the sunlight (”yikes”)–and can’t just take off saying “see ya later” because we’ve gotten married in Vegas!

(And no, I wasn’t just watching “The Hangover.”)

4 Responses to “The “Pledge” Is No Promise for Deficit Reduction”

  1. comment number 1 by: AMTbuff

    “Politicians reluctant to campaign on pain platform” is not exactly a news flash. They always promise improvement from the present, not from the bleak future that the public suspects but greatly underestimates.

    You might as well run the headline “Republicans not Suicidal”. Neither are the Democrats. Even Tea Party candidates are not telling voters just how bad the options really are.

  2. comment number 2 by: Gipper


    Where is Steny Hoyer’s plan? You think he’s such as swell guy, but he’s radio silent when it comes to specific written plans.

    With the exception of Paul Ryan, Washington DC is a town full of cowards.

  3. comment number 3 by: AMTbuff

    Diane, I believe that you greatly underestimate the willingness of the public to accept major tax increases AFTER the long-term imbalance is fully addressed in a way that guarantees we will not be throwing good money after bad.

    The so-called Pledge is largely irrelevant to the long-term imbalance.

  4. comment number 4 by: Jim Glass

    One view of the fundamental budget problem:

    Chart (from story)

    As Bastiat said long ago: “Government is the great fiction by which everyone tries to live at everybody else’s expense”.