Columnist and former TNR staffer Matthew Miller is as much a numbers-cruncher as a writer, with a resume that includes stints at McKinsey and membership on the Council on Foreign Relations. During the Clinton Administration, he served in the Office of Management and Budget, where, according to his online biography, his work included "leading management studies."
In short, he's a mellow, straight-laced guy. And the budget debate has driven him stark, raving mad:
Remember that great scene in the 1980 film classic, “The Shining,” when the wife comes upon the typewriter of the Jack Nicholson character, who’s supposed to have been working night and day for months on his novel? To her horror, she finds thousands of pages on which Jack has typed, “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy,” formatted in countless, crazy ways. Suddenly his suspected madness becomes all too frighteningly real.
Well, debt limit mania has driven me to a similar frenzied state. If my wife came across my manuscript it would read, “The House Republican budget adds $6 trillion to the debt in the next decade yet the GOP is balking at raising the debt limit. The House Republican budget adds $6 trillion to the debt in the next decade yet the GOP is balking at raising the debt limit.”
I thought about making this week’s column that one sentence printed over and over 30 times. It would have been the opinion page equivalent of a Dada-esque protest against the inanity of the debate — and a cry for every news outlet to focus on this simple, clarifying fact.
In passing, Miller also draws attention something that's gotten far too little attention in this debate. The most fiscally responsible plan seems to be neither the Republicans' nor the president's. It's the Congressional Progressive Caucus plan, which relies heavily on tax increases and cuts to defense spending.
I say "seems to be" because I still haven't seen a detailed, apples-to-apples comparison of how the various deficit reduction plans or frameworks compare to one another. Hopefully somebody will produce such a comparison soon.