Rush: Oh, by the way, I'm suddenly not all that worried about the national debt

Headshot image of Robert Laurie
Published by: Robert Laurie on Friday February 09th, 2018

Wut?                                                                                                  

I haven't listened to Rush Limbaugh in a long, long, time. Between the site, my family, and various other projects I'm working on, I'm generally too busy for afternoon radio.  On the rare chance that I have some politics-free "me time," I'm digging crates at the local record store or pulling something from my record collection to put on the turntable.

From what I've heard, though, he's right behind Hannity in terms of ceaseless admiration for Trump.  Without listening, I don't honestly know if that's case or not, but it's what everyone tells me.  This....  Well, this makes me think it's probably true.

For decades, Limbaugh has been railing against the Democrats never-ending quest to enlarge our nation's negative balance. This was particularly true during the Obama years, where "he doubled the national debt" became a battle cry.  Now Republicans are in power and - guess what - debt and deficits no longer matter.  They're suddenly not that big of a deal.

Wait, what!?

As Limbaugh put it yesterday:

And then I got to realizing that I think one of the reasons so many Republicans are signing on to this is a silly reason, but in their world it makes sense. We’ve got, if this happens, a two-year budget deal, right? You know what that means? They don’t have to worry about being blamed for a government shutdown for two years! That alone is worth signing it, is it not? They’re probably gonna throw a party tonight because they’re not gonna be blamed for a government shutdown.

Every time we get an increase in military spending, there is no accompanying cutback anywhere else, despite the fact the news today: Food stamp enrollment drops by four million in one month. You think we’re gonna cut the food stamp program? Hell’s bells, no way. Whoever runs these budget departments doesn’t want less money than they had last year. We advertise for food stamp recipients when we begin to lose them. We gotta keep the budget.

I know I’m sounding kind of cynical here, but it’s not cynicism. It’s a realization that all the arguments, the budget fight every year is the best weapon the Democrats have to portray Republicans as racists, sexists, bigots, homophobes, of no compassion, who hate and want to starve kids. It never changes. Meanwhile, we’re told that the national debt’s gonna wipe us out, that the deficit’s gonna wipe us out. We’ve gotta get a handle on the deficit. It’s growing because the national debt is growing.

And I know theoretically all this is bad, but in the real world all of the apocalyptic warnings I grew up hearing have yet to happen. The national debt has not choked us. The national debt is not destroyed us. We may be living in the middle of the destruction and don’t see it yet, but for some reason I didn’t get caught up in it.  I think one of the reasons why is I’m not personally affected by these never ending allegations of being responsible for a government shutdown.

Later, Rush said he "wasn't saying the budget wasn't important," but he'd basically just argued that, if we kinda-sort give up on the fight against an ever-increasing debt, we take a weapon away from the Democrats. Since we haven't yet seen any destruction from our possible insolvency, why not go for it? Wouldn't it be better to stop letting Democrats use our fiscal conservatism against us? Wouldn't it make things easier?

You have got to be kidding me.  This is like arguing "there's no need to get into the storm shelter, because that tornado over there hasn't hit our house yet."

When I say "for decades" I'm not exaggerating. For decades Limbaugh has been one of the primary purveyors of the idea that our unsustainable debt would eventually do us irreparable harm.  ...And he was right.  We're $20 Trillion in the hole, our biggest foreign creditors (China and Japan) are both central to the North Korean crisis, and it's easy to see any one of a dozen scenarios where that leads to some truly disastrous consequences. To pretend our debt isn't a national sword of Damocles is to whistle past one of the world's biggest graveyards. 

In fact, diminishing the importance of the debt has been one of the Democrats central strategies for years.  "Sure," they say, "the debt is big.  But so what?"  When perpetually-wrong economists like Paul Krugman are really feeling saucy, they'll even argue that an astronomical debt is a good thing.

That Limbaugh is now, even partially, embracing their "who cares" attitude represents a spectacular flip-flop.

Here's an idea: Why don't we decry the unsustainable national debt when we're out of power AND when we're in power?

Oh, Right.

Be sure to "like" Robert Laurie over on Facebook and follow him on Twitter. You'll be glad you did.