Digging in their heels . . .

U.S. President Barack Obama speaks during a news conference in the East Room of the White House in Washington, June 29, 2011. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque (UNITED STATES – Tags: POLITICS)

It looks like we’re heading for an ugly end game for the debt ceiling confrontation. Ezra Klein explains:

The best advice I’ve gotten for assessing the debt-ceiling negotiations was to “watch for the day when the White House goes public.” As long as the Obama administration was refusing to attack Republicans publicly, my source said, they believed they could cut a deal. And that held true. They were quiet when the negotiations were going on. They were restrained after Eric Cantor and Jon Kyl walked out last week. Press Secretary Jay Carney simply said, “We are confident that we can continue to seek common ground and that we will achieve a balanced approach to deficit reduction.” But today they went public. The negotiations have failed.

“The primary goal of President Obama’s presser, which just wrapped up, was obvious,” writes Greg Sargent. “He was clearly out to pick a major public fight with Republicans over tax cuts for the rich.” That’s exactly right. But he didn’t want this fight. He wanted a deal. And he wasn’t able to get one that the White House considered even minimally acceptable. After putting more than $2 trillion of spending cuts on the table, they weren’t even able to get $400 billion — about a sixth of the total — in tax increases.

Klein goes on to explain that things will likely get ugly. Both sides are digging in their heals, and only a crisis or market meltdown will get them to move. Perhaps something else will change the dynamic, like the proposal coming from Kent Conrad and the Senate Democrats, but that seems unlikely.

As Klein explained, Obama has been quiet because he was hoping for a deal. Now that the Republicans want a fight, they are going to get one. Nobody likes taxes, but the notion that we can’t have any new revenues, including closing corporate tax breaks, when we’re facing a $15 trillion debt is totally absurd. The polls are in Obama’s favor when it comes to increasing taxes on the wealthy.

That said, the GOP is currently run by the extremists in the Tea Party who won’t compromise on anything. It’s probably going to get ugly . . .

  

The death of supply-side economics

One of the original supply-siders, Bruce Bartlett, explains in a brilliant op-ed why the ideas that worked so well in the early 1980’s are irrelevant today. Bartlett is promoting a new book, The New American Economy.

I continue to believe that what the supply-siders did was good for the economy, good for the country and good for the advancement of economic science. The best economists in the country were pretty clueless about our economic problems during the Carter years. It was widely asserted that the money supply had no meaningful effect on inflation, that marginal tax rates had no incentive effects, and that it would take decades or another Great Depression to break the back of inflation.

As all economists now know, these ideas were wrong. All economists today accept the importance of the money supply–perhaps too much; during the recent crisis many asserted that fiscal stimulus was unnecessary because an increase in the money supply was the only thing necessary to restore growth. (How this would have been accomplished when interest rates were close to zero was never explained.) All economists now accept the importance of marginal tax rates to economic decisionmaking, and organizations like the National Bureau of Economic Research publish vast numbers of papers on this topic.

During the George W. Bush years, however, I think SSE became distorted into something that is, frankly, nuts–the ideas that there is no economic problem that cannot be cured with more and bigger tax cuts, that all tax cuts are equally beneficial, and that all tax cuts raise revenue.

These incorrect ideas led to the enactment of many tax cuts that had no meaningful effect on economic performance. Many were just give-aways to favored Republican constituencies, little different, substantively, from government spending. What, after all, is the difference between a direct spending program and a refundable tax credit? Nothing, really, except that Republicans oppose the first because it represents Big Government while they support the latter because it is a “tax cut.”

Bartlett exposes the caricature that has taken over conservative economic thinking, the slavish devotion to dogma that makes it impossible to consider the circumstances of our new reality. Think about it. Talk to a conservative about economic policy, and the answer, regardless of the circumstances, is usually the same – spending bad, tax cuts good. I can teach a three-year-old to repeat that.

Bartlett goes on to explain why massive spending was necessary with the economic collapse we faced last year, and the obscenely stupid response of many conservatives who suggested addressing the problem with more tax cuts.

Bartlett was an adviser to Jack Kemp and helped write the Reagan tax cuts. This is a must-read for anyone who wants to understand the history of supply-side economics and why one of its chief architects is arguing that it doesn’t apply today.

  

Peter Schiff vs. Art Laffer and all the other cheerleaders

Peter Schiff has been calling the mortgage crisis and the recession for years. This video shows Schiff battling the likes of Art Laffer and Ben Stein, who were arguing last year that the US economy was in great shape and that there was no problem with inflated home values or the sub-prime mess.

Laffer is the same guy saying the sky will fall if Obama institutes his tax plan. Why should we listen to this guy?

For years we were told that tax cuts would solve everything. Of course, we were just living it up on cheap money, and now the bill is coming due. Watch the video, and ask yourself who you should be listening to now.

Hat tip: Andrew Sullivan

  

CNN compares the Obama and McCain tax plans

If you’re making under $250,000 per year, both candidates are proposing tax cuts. For the lower brackets, the cuts are bigger under Obama’s plan. McCain offers higher cuts for taxpayers in the higher brackets.

  

Meg Whitman falls flat

I was expecting a little more from Meg Whitman’s speech. As the former CEO of Ebay, she might a bright future ahead of her in politics. The pundits on MSNBC were speculating that Arnold supports the idea of having Whitman be the next governor of California.

Her delivery was fine, and she was able to convey the Republican message of individualism and tax cuts, but the crowd wasn’t into it. She got some good cheers, but overall the speech was dull.

  

Related Posts