On CNBC this afternoon (I paraphrase):

Cato Institute’s Dan Mitchell says if we simply restrain the growth of government by 2.5% annually for the next 10 years we’ll balance the budget*.

His opponent (I tuned in late and missed his intro) says no can do. Washington has commitments to people whose needs are expanding at a rate that requires more than a 2.5% annual increase in government spending. And that allowing income taxes to revert to Clinton-era rates would solve the deficit issue.

I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve heard that argument – that higher income tax rates did not derail the ’90s booming economy (of course “they” leave “booming” out of the conversation) – and thus, clearly, they won’t derail the present anything-but-booming economy (of course “they” make no mention of today’s tepid growth rate).

That’s like saying we diverted more water [than we do today] from the San Joaquin Valley directly to Los Angeles during a decade of record precipitation – whichproves conclusively that we can indeed give away more water and still produce bountiful crops, in spite of recent aridity.

Paralleling the ’90′s U.S. economy (a tech boom, a baby boom generation 15 years from retirement, etc.) with today’s, for the purpose of promoting an agenda, is partisan hackery at its worst.

*Here’s Mitchell’s analysis...

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