The Fundamental Flaw in Republican Economic Cliches

Belt-tightening, Republican-style

When Republicans aren’t telling us how they want to run government like a business, they bluster on about handling government finances like Americans do around their kitchen table. If they can’t afford something, they don’t buy it. If their credit card is at its limit, they quit charging on it. Blah-blah.

Except this isn’t how either businesses or family finances work. At least, not in my world.

I happen to have a business. And while I do all I can to cut costs, I recognize that if I am to stay in business I simply must spend money. There are minimum levels of expenses that I have to meet: computers and software must be maintained, bills for internet access and domain names have to be paid, and on and on. And when I come up short for these costs, I do what I can to increase revenue.

Any successful business owner knows there is a point beyond which cost-cutting alone solves problems

Any successful business owner knows there is a point beyond which cost-cutting alone solves problems. In fact, to cut beyond those levels can put you out of business. If you cut your staffing or hours or locations so customers are dissatisfied, they will leave you. If you slash spending to the point you’re offering inferior products or services, they will leave you over that. And if you stop paying your staff or overhead, you might as well put out the “Closed” sign and walk away.

The same is true of the fabled kitchen table financials. Sure, you can get by without cable TV and you can cut your auto insurance coverage and you can even start shopping at the Scratch and Dent Food Store. But if all this fails to help you meet your remaining monthly bills, you will probably look at cleaning out the garage onto eBay or Craig’s List, getting a second job, cashing in a low performing retirement account, and whatever else you can think of to bring in more money.

Why do Republicans not know this? Why do they think we can lower the deficit (the urgency of which is in dispute) by cutting spending alone?

I can’t help but summon a picture of Chad telling Chloe they’re going to have to tighten their belts by spending a month this year in Cozumel instead of Capri. Cash flow problem solved!

But here in reality world, we know that if you’re going to stay on track, with your business or your life, when you fall short you find ways to increase the money coming in. Cash flow problem really solved.

Come on Republicans, start solving the problem.


  • Russ
    July 4, 2011 - 9:17 pm | Permalink

    What is the solution? What would you have the republicans e-bay off to raise revenue? Apache Helicopters? (Fine by me). Let’s carry your home business analogy through. After you finish selling the wicker off your porch, you have to raise capital the democratic way, by taxing your neighbor.. I’m already tapped out… Too much charity for the stray cats.

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m a patriotic American who realizes my taxes are the rent that allows me to stay in this country, and I’m proud to pay them. However, My tax bill keeps going up while I was promised they wouldn’t. Until the government gets their financial house in order don’t come begging me for more of my hard earned dollars to fund:
    • Afghanistan
    • Iraq
    • Syria
    • Anyplace else we are playing world police and killing people
    • Corporate welfare
    • Able Bodied American Lazy Ass Welfare
    • Congressional Lifetime benefits
    I could go on and on, but you get the point.

    How about some constructive ideas for solving the debt issue rather than name calling and repetitive partisan rhetoric. This frenetic finger pointing on either side of the aisle echoed ad nauseam across the blogosphere is not solving anything.

    Face it, The Dems are as crooked as the Reps, and until they start working for the people things will continue to get worse. The more you feed the “class warfare” BS machine, the more people are looking the other way while politicians shill for corporations and rob us blind.

  • July 5, 2011 - 12:00 am | Permalink

    No offense Russ, but I wasn’t thinking about raising taxes on the people in your (our) income group, I was thinking of raising them on Chad and Chloe. But you said your tax bill keeps going up. In fact, we’re paying less in taxes now then at any time in recent history. A single person earning up to $78,850 today pays 25%. In 1980, we paid 54%, in 1960 it was 62%, in 1946 it was 78%, etc. You want constructive ideas for solving the debt issue – ending the Bush tax cuts is as constructive as it gets. What have you got? We’ve gone about as far as we can go on cutting spending but the Republicans who signed Grover Norquist’s no taxes pledge (which is basically all of them) won’t even consider stuff like plugging loopholes or ending, as you call it, corporate welfare.

    Republicans are just flat wrong here, and when they act in mindless lockstep, as they are now, there’s nothing wrong with calling them out on it. Saying “Dems are as crooked as the Reps” can just be an excuse for tuning out. I don’t think you’re doing that but most people who toss out, “One’s just as bad as the other” (and they’re not – Republicans are worse) use it as an excuse to not take a real stand.

  • Russ
    July 5, 2011 - 3:13 am | Permalink

    We can discuss on the porch. This is far to uncivilized of an environment for this type of debate.

  • Violet
    July 6, 2011 - 7:05 am | Permalink

    Trish…you do good work. Love AV

  • July 6, 2011 - 7:36 am | Permalink

    See, that’s why you’re my favorite aunt. Thanks AV!

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