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Republicans Should 'Pull a Newt' for Deficit Cuts

Author: Amity Shlaes, Former Hayek Senior Fellow for Political Economy
August 1, 2011
Bloomberg.com

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Thank goodness for Mitch McConnell. Thank goodness Republicans in Congress didn't "pull a Newt." Welcome, Clinton Era II.

That's the conventional wisdom about the budget deal reached July 31. Commentators are emphasizing the statesmanship of the Senate minority leader. Without the Kentucky senator's diplomacy, the radicals in the Grand Old Party might have played too rough and shut down the government, as House Speaker Newt Gingrich did in the 1990s, rather than giving in to President Bill Clinton on the budget.

Therefore, we have avoided calamity. If the Tea Party leaders, sons of Newt, keep quiet, we may even move into a balmy period of growth and narrowing deficits, just like during the late 1990s, the thinking goes. This attitude is reinforced by McConnell's loud suggestion that Gingrich's intransigence damaged the Republican "brand."

Gingrich recently said that McConnell represented a "Washington version of reality that's just not true." And he's right. The conventional wisdom is contrived. The debt-limit deal, which will cut more than $2 trillion in spending over the next decade, is impressive. However, a little more Newt would have got the bond market something it would like even better: a tougher and more enduring commitment from U.S. leaders to reduce our debt and deficits.

 

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