Matt Yglesias responds to my post on conservatives and deficits by saying that I confirmed his point. But his point has shifted. Originally, he was arguing, emphatically, that “Conservatives don’t care about the deficit.” Yet in his current post, he gets closer to the truth by making it more about priorities. We can go in circles about this, but the bottom line is that conservatives want people to be able to keep more of what they earn, but unless spending gets cut, we’ll end up with unsustainable deficits, which in turn will lead to inflation and/or higher taxes. Ultimately, if Republicans did pursue conservative policies and actually enact spending cuts, it would reduce the deficit. I’d hope that Yglesias would be able to acknowledge this, even if he would prefer higher levels of taxes and spending.
He also notes that conservatives didn’t oppose Bush’s spending agressively enough because of the tax cuts, and this was indeed a huge mistake. I emphasized this point when I wrote about the Bush legacy back in 2008:
Bush was able to buy off many economic conservatives with tax cuts, but another lesson that the right should take away from his presidency is that politicians should be rewarded for cutting spending more than for reducing taxes. The Bush tax cuts were not made permanent, and by letting spending get out of control, he made it a lot easier for Democrats to scale back or eliminate them when they are set to expire in 2011. Liberals can now point to the record deficits of the Bush years and argue that lower taxes, rather than runaway spending, was the culprit.