Policy debates can get pretty complicated. Sometimes that's necessary. But sometimes the complications obscure reality. And I think that may be the case with the argument over the Bush tax cuts.
An indefinite extension of the Bush tax cuts is, well, indefinite. It will cost $3.9 trillion in the first 10 years. And then it will cost more than that in the second 10 years. Call that number Y. And then it will cost more than Y in the third 10 years. And so on and on into eternity. Comparatively, the stimulus bill is a tiny fraction of that. The bank bailouts, which were passed by George W. Bush and the Democrats in 2006, will end up costing the government only $66 billion. The health-care bill improves the deficit outlook.
Republicans and tea party candidates are both running campaigns based around concern for the deficit. But both, to my knowledge, support the single-largest increase in the deficit that anyone of either party has proposed in memory.
Republicans say we must reduce the deficit. Republicans say we must extend the Bush tax cuts.
Sorry, but there is no honest way to reconcile these two positions.