Rep. Dave Camp's Deficit Deception

November 10, 2010 3:28 pm ET — Matt Finkelstein

Last night, Rep. Dave Camp (R-MN) suggested that Republicans will not accept anything less than a permanent extension of all the Bush tax cuts, echoing incoming Majority Leader Eric Cantor's (R-VA) rejection of a potential compromise.

In an interview on CNBC's The Kudlow Report, Camp — likely the next chairman of the powerful Ways and Means Committee — dismissed concerns about the cost of tax cuts for the richest Americans. After declaring that the idea of paying for tax cuts "makes no sense," Camp argued that fostering economic growth is more important than reducing the deficit.

"It isn't just about the deficit," he said. "It's also about having a pro-growth agenda, so that we can get this economy moving and get people hired again." Watch:

Camp is right about one thing: job creation should take priority over near-term deficit reduction. But, unfortunately, Republican lawmakers spent the past two years claiming otherwise to justify their opposition to Democratic initiatives. The Washington Monthly's Steve Benen explained the problem in August:

For 18 months, Democrats, most notably President Obama, have said the deficit matters, but the state of the economy matters more. Republicans and their Tea Party base have argued the opposite, insisting that the deficit has to take priority; we're facing a debt crisis; etc.

And Camp, who is also a member of the president's bipartisan deficit commission, has not been immune to this duplicity. For instance, when Democrats wanted to pass an extension of much-needed unemployment benefits, Camp complained that it would increase the deficit.

Camp's campaign website states, "There is no doubt that the deficit has now reached the danger zone." However, it seems that deficit-danger doesn't matter when Republicans are the ones who want to dig the hole deeper.

Read more at the Wonk Room.

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