April 15, 2010: Republican candidate for U.S. Senate and former HP CEO Carly Fiorina speaks at the 2010 Tax Day Tea Party in Pleasanton, Calif.
Carly Fiorina, the Republican nominee for U.S. Senate, went seriously off the rails for saying in an interview this week: "Let me propose something that may seem crazy to you: you don't need to pay for tax cuts.
"They pay for themselves, if they are targeted, because they create jobs....We're getting ready to increase the taxes on capital formation. That's a really bad idea in the middle of a recession. Why are we making it harder for people to invest capital? We should be making it easier!"
This is dumb, both as a matter of politics and policy. Fiorina's campaign is drawing energy -- and making gains -- by coming out strongly against big deficits and what she and many independent voters see as government overspending. By embracing irresponsible tax cuts without corresponding spending cuts, she's contradicting herself and embracing the sort of borrowing and debt she's criticizing the incumbent, Barbara Boxer, for supporting.
On policy, this is the sort of voodoo economics Fiorina had suggested she was against. (For people who still believe this stuff, show me one tax cut in the past 30 years that has paid for itself). Fiorina has blasted the federal stimulus, the largest piece of which was tax cuts that have made the deficit bigger, not smaller. Fiorina also has been arguing that deficits and government borrowing are themselves destabilizing (I heard her do this myself recently at an event in Palm Springs).
If she really believes that, she should do a mea culpa quickly.
Fiorina sounds not like an outsider but yet another politician, offering voters something for nothing. In this, at least, she's being bipartisan. For Republicans, deficits matter unless they hurt the ability to cut taxes. For Democrats, deficits matter unless they require spending cuts. Boxer and Fiorina appear to agree that it's fine to steal from future generations to fund their priorities today.
They only disagree on the method of theft.