Finally, there might be a Democrat who speaks my language about deficits and budgets. From Tapped (italics and bold mine):
I think the honest answer to this question is that there’s a tension between our desire to eliminate the deficit and create a stronger economic foundation and eliminate some of the debt our children will inherit, there’s a tension between that deficit and our need to invest and make America stronger for the 21st century.
I think that, if we’re honest, you cannot it, it’s just common sense in the math, have universal health care, and invest in energy, and make a serious effort to eliminate poverty, to strengthen the middle class, and do some of the work that I think America needs to be leading on around the world, and at the same time, eliminate the deficit. Those things are incompatible. And anybody who claims — politicians who say ‘I’m going to give you a big tax cut, and give you health care, put more money into education, and oh by the way, we’re going to balance the budget in the process,’ it’s just make-believe, it isn’t the truth. So I think there’s gonna be hard judgments that have to be made — my commitment is to have universal health care, to do things that have to be done about this energy situation and global warming, because I think they’re enormous threats, not only to the people of America but to the future of the world, for America to lead on some of these big moral issues that face the world, and I think America has to do something about poverty, I just do. Those are higher priorities to me than the elimination of the deficit. I don’t want to make the deficit worse and I would like to reduce the deficit, but in the short-term, if we don’t take a step to deal with these other issues, it in my judgment, undermines the ability of America to remain strong in the 21st century.
To follow up on a point made by Thomas Geoghan, many Americans are willing to pay taxes if they see the results. Eliminating tax cuts and raising tax cuts in the name of fiscal
austerity responsibility will never be popular over the long term. First, it doesn’t directly help most Americans (unlike spending on healthcare, schools, libraries, etc.). Second, most people don’t want to tighten their belts to preserve the stability of the bond market (or Wall Street for that matter). The irony is that if you want to put in place ‘revenue enhancements’–taxes and removing deductions–you have to convince people their money is going to something useful. Improving the environment and healthcare would be rather convincing, particularly to anyone who has gone without healthcare.
In the last decade, the Republicans, despite running on a platform of rabid anti-governmentalism, actually increased government spending even before factoring in Our Excellent Iraqi Occupation. Like it or not, if you are actually serious about reducing deficits (as opposed to being a dishonest anti-governmentalist), you will need to raise taxes. And to do that, there have to be some visible, immediate benefits to the daily lives of Americans of doing so.