Ignore the Chicken Littles.

Marjorie Margolies' op-ed in yesterday's Washington Post, which was a salutary reminder of the meaning of votes in Congress, should also remind us of something else: When Republicans make predictions of terrible events to come, they are almost certainly wrong. This is important because if health-care reform passes on Sunday, they'll be saying not only that Democrats will lose their majorities in Congress because of it but also that jobs will disappear, costs will skyrocket, the deficit will explode, seniors will be executed by government bureaucrats, vicious animals will burst from their cages and carry off our children, Kevin Federline will release more albums, and who knows what other nightmarish events will ensue.

When Margolies made the 1993 vote that probably cost her a seat in Congress -- in favor of Bill Clinton's first budget -- Republicans sounded a lot like they do today. The budget (which cut taxes for middle-class people and raised them slightly on the rich) passed without a single Republican vote in either house. Newt Gingrich said it would cause "a job-killing recession." The wise Jim Bunning, then but a member of the House, said, "It won't reduce the deficit, but it will injure the country and decimate the economy. It's a job-killing bill from the word go." GOP budget guru John Kasich, the Paul Ryan of the early 1990s, said, "We'll come back next year and try to help you out when this puts the economy in the gutter."

In case you don't remember, the passage of that budget was followed by the longest period of sustained economic growth in American history, with 22 million jobs created. The point isn't that the Clinton budget was the reason all that growth happened; the point is that the predictions of doom and gloom Republicans made were absurd. Just something to keep in mind when they begin talking about the socialist hellscape into which America will soon be transformed.

-- Paul Waldman

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