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Deficit & Dependency I: The Deficit Argument

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Progressives in congress are proposing a wide range of benefits for Americans, such as a universal pre-K program, childcare benefits for working families, expansions of the child tax credit and the earned income credit, free college and so on. While it is certainly reasonable to debate the merits of such proposals, many on the right (such as Fox News) have engaged in D&D. Not the roleplaying game Dungeons & Dragons, but the Deficit argument and the Dependency argument. The deficit argument, which can also be categorized as the “it costs too much” argument, is that such programs will cost too much money, thus increasing the deficit. Since increasing the deficit is claimed to be harmful, then these programs should not be implemented. Cost-benefit arguments are certainly sensible if they are made in good faith. While some on the right are making this argument in good faith, many are not. While the philosophical problem of other minds shows that I cannot know the content of another’s mind (or even if they have one), a good general test for bad faith is the consistency test. If a person is making a good faith argument based on their professed concern about something, then they will have a similar concern about that thing in other situations as well. Naturally, there can be relevant differences that warrant not applying the same principle in other circumstances. In the case of the deficit argument, the test for bad faith is to see if those making the argument are consistently concerned about cost and the deficit. If so, then this can be reasonably taken as a good faith argument: they believe what they are arguing. If their concern is not consistent, then it is reasonable to suspect bad faith—although people can be inconsistent for other reasons, such as being unaware of the inconsistency. Looking back on the Trump presidency (and other Republican administrations), we can see that the right generally did not care about costs or deficits when it came to spending. . .

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News source: A Philosopher's Blog

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