Michael Tomasky writes:
Last month, the CBO released a little-noted document, which I first encountered via Bruce Bartlett, breaking down the debt this country has accumulated since 2001. The grand total of debt is $11.8 trillion. Of that, more than half, or $6.2 trillion, was added because of lost revenue, while $5.6 trillion was added because of spending. Now you may look at those numbers and say, well, spending is almost half. And yes, it is. But what’s interesting in this chart is that the lost revenue figure matches exactly the actual current deficit.
For those who reside in the world of fact, it’s beyond question that the decrease in tax revenue because of the Bush tax cuts and the economic meltdown that resulted from conservative deregulatory policies has done more than spending to create the crisis.
Now, according to the evidence Tomasky himself cites, spending has gone up a lot, and revenue has gone down a lot, and we have a higher deficit. Of course, the decline in revenue doesn't mean a decline in revenue, it means a decline in revenue relative to a counter-factual in which revenue rose a lot, but never mind. By Tomasky's own evidence, yes there might not be a deficit without the Bush tax cuts, but there also wouldn't be a deficit without all the extra spending. So surely, the rules of a basic, honorable discourse, interpreting the words of other side with the minimal charity that is demanded by justice, one would have to say that "spending caused the deficit" and "tax cuts caused the deficit" are both true, and about equally true, and the difference between the two statements being merely semantic, either side can without dishonesty use either formulation for rhetorical purposes. Right?
But no, Tomasky calls Pawlenty a liar. If he wants to make such charges, it's a strategic mistake to cite evidence in his articles.