January 11, 2008

Well, it is a start

David Brooks admits that Republican economic policies might not fit the current reality:
"Supply-side economics had a good run, but continual tax cuts can no longer be the centerpiece of Republican economic policy."
I am still waiting to see where "supply-side" economics did so well. Talking to an economics student friend of mine, he discussed an economist's study that proved that cutting taxes never makes up for the lost revenue. I think we are all agreed that there is such a thing as too much taxes and there is certainly such a thing as government waste. Republican concerns with those (well, they used to be concerned with government waste) are merited, but the fanciful belief that you can cut taxes and raise revenues is myth. Again, I have no doubt that you can squelch and shrink an economy with too much taxation, but the very belief in supply-side economics has started to rival the belief in America as a Christian nation and the existence of the yeti as favorite myths.

Part of that is the fault of Democrats for allowing the dialogue to be so controlled. They allowed the discussion of the public good to be supplanted with the basic rant that "taxes are bad."

At least Brooks admits that this constant call for tax cuts no longer works. I think he misunderstands his own party, as every Republican I see running for President uses tax cuts as a magical elixir and derides anyone who disagrees as someone who "will raise taxes." That is irresponsible--especially in a time when this President has spent 700 Billion dollars on two wars with seemingly no intention of paying for either.


Bitebark said...

It's interesting. This is becoming a reap-what-ye-have-sown election for the Republican Party. In areas that are entirely unrelated, certain portions of the electorate are becoming unmoored from the center of the party. Think Huckabee with his Evangelicals, or Ron Paul with the libertarian wing. Or even Bloomberg, sitting out there -- undeclared, but a mighty attractive fellow for the fiscal conservatives who could care less about gay marriage or state's rights but just want to make some goshdamn money.

But I hadn't thought, up till this Brooks column, that actual longstanding planks of the ideology were coming loose, too. I mean, to be able to vocalize that cutting taxes isn't forever desirable . . . essentially, to pen what is in fact dissent -- is some big stuff indeed.

steves said...

Cutting taxes has always been one of those issues that people don't want to think through. It appeals to many voters on a basic level and says to them, "I will assure you have more money during the year." The same voter that is happy with cutting taxes is outraged when one of their favorite programs is cut. We saw this in MI with the budget crisis.

To some degree, I think we benefit from pressure to keep spending down. I'd like to think that this prevent some of the 'pork' spending and forces the gov't to give priority to programs that work. At the end of the day, though, there has to be some compromise and increasing taxes needs to be an option (though not the first option).

On a different topic, that article discussed some other things that some Republicans wanted to do. One was educational reform and "taking on the teacher's unions." I have been having an ongoing debate on another forum with a guy that hates public schools and blames teacher's unions for all the problems in public schools.

I am mostly pro-union, but I certainly don't believe they are perfect. My opponent claimed that the unions had too much influence over laws and policies. One thing that I discovered was that despite being one of the largest unions, the NEA doesn't even rank among the top 100 in lobbying expenditures. I know this isn't the best measure of influence, but it was the only objective measure and didn't even come close to the money spent by the US Chamber of Commerce, the real estate industry, and the pharm industry.

Streak said...

Bitebark, yes, I think we are seeing a slow realignment. Perhaps we will see a time when Grover Norquist is relegated to the sidelines. The "hate government" wing of the Republican party is simply irresponsible.

And Steve, speaking of that, I think absolutely that there should be a give and take here, and when conservatives pushed for some fiscal responsibility, they played an important role in our healthy dialogue. That healthy dialogue has been absent for sometime now, of course. Instead, we have been given idiocy from the right--how else do we describe a policy that says "tax cuts" regardless of the economic reality?

I also think the attack on the unions is generally misinformed. When Ubub gets back, he can speak to the issues about unions in public schools better than I can. On one hand, I completely understand the concerns about bloated administration, but frankly am more concerned about the horrible pay for teachers than I am the ability to fire bad ones.