As Jerry Seinfeld would say: "NEUMANN....!" | Wis.Community

As Jerry Seinfeld would say: "NEUMANN....!"

[img_assist|nid=153678|title=|desc=|link=none|align=left|width=299|height=195]Running for US Senate, Republican businessman Mark Neumann is proving to be Wisconsin's very own Mini-Me version of Newt Gingrich on budget policy. As in, taking credit for stuff he essentially has opposed.

Like Gingrich, the former House speaker who is now running for president, Neumann is currently campaigning on the meme that when he was in the Congress in the 1990s, he "helped balance the federal budget." His campaign says, "Mark wrote [in 1995] a plan to balance the federal budget. Later, his plan would become part of the framework for the 1998 budget that was balanced for the first time in decades."

Uh, yeah, that would be the 1998 balanced budget made possible by the '93 Omnibus act, passed entirely by Democrats, a measure that Gingrich and all other Republicans then in Congress voted against -- not including Neumann, because he wasn't in office yet. He'd come along later to propose solutions fundamentally similar to past and later GOP failures.

Neumann campaign sleight-of-hand aside, what actually happened was this: Bill Clinton took over the presidency when the federal budget was seriously out of whack after 12 years of Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush at the helm. In August 1993, Clinton signed into law the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act, which passed Congress without a single Republican vote. That measure raised taxes on the wealthiest 1.2% of taxpayers, cut taxes on 15 million low-income families and made tax cuts available to 90% of small businesses.

All of this was very similar to more recent initiatives by President Obama, also opposed unilaterally by Republicans. The Clinton-era Omnibus act mandated that the budget be balanced over a number of years and the deficit reduced, also in part through the implementation of spending restraints.

Now, as we all know, Republicans love spending restraints, except when those restraints involve the military, and they'll take credit for any of them, even if, alone, non-military cuts could not balance the budget then or now, and even if they voted against a balanced package of targeted tax hikes on the rich and spending cuts that actually did do the job.

Neumann, as we noted, wasn't in Congress when Clinton narrowly succeeded in achieving his balanced budget plan. Neumann two years later supported something else he thought would balance the budget. Meanwhile, Republicans in general shrilly warned that the Democratic/Clinton balanced budget plan would prove disastrous.

You can look at the attached graph and see for yourself how things actually transpired. Neumann and the other Republicans were wrong. Nevertheless, here come Neumann and Gingrich and other Republicans, still claiming they were instrumental in balancing the budget. Never mind that many of their ideas -- later implemented in the George. W. Bush era and also since promoted anew by the likes of Rep. Paul Ryan, proved fiscally disastrous, raising federal deficits to record highs.

Neumann's latest balancing act is old news. It includes repealing President Obama’s health-care law (which actually will cost tens of billions) and making the Bush tax cuts or equivalent tax cuts permanent.

True, Neumann would support enacting spending cuts totaling $1.36 trillion cumulative over five years, and making $368 billion in so-called tax cut offsets from existing subsidies or tax loopholes, but even Obama supports that level of action on those items and, in any event, the devil is in the details. 

All of which once again goes to show that in the modern conserve-o-verse, just because a progressive policy is proved right after enactment doesn't mean that it actually is right. At least not ideologically or politically.

FURTHER READING: Democurmudgeon has another take on Neumann's budget claims, including one pretty cool chart I've not seen before. Check it out here: 


March 1, 2012 - 2:27pm