Saturday, September 25, 2010

Professor Paul Krugman On Republican Party Higher Math: "On Thursday, House Republicans released their “Pledge to America,” supposedly outlining their policy agenda. In essence, what they say is, “Deficits are a terrible thing. Let’s make them much bigger.” The document repeatedly condemns federal debt — 16 times, by my count. But the main substantive policy proposal is to make the Bush tax cuts permanent, which independent estimates say would add about $3.7 trillion to the debt over the next decade — about $700 billion more than the Obama administration’s tax proposals. " True, the document talks about the need to cut spending. But as far as I can see, there’s only one specific cut proposed — canceling the rest of the Troubled Asset Relief Program, which Republicans claim (implausibly) would save $16 billion. That’s less than half of 1 percent of the budget cost of those tax cuts. As for the rest, everything must be cut, in ways not specified — “except for common-sense exceptions for seniors, veterans, and our troops.” In other words, Social Security, Medicare and the defense budget are off-limits. "So what’s left? Howard Gleckman of the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center has done the math. As he points out, the only way to balance the budget by 2020, while simultaneously (a) making the Bush tax cuts permanent and (b) protecting all the programs Republicans say they won’t cut, is to completely abolish the rest of the federal government: “No more national parks, no more Small Business Administration loans, no more export subsidies, no more N.I.H. No more Medicaid (one-third of its budget pays for long-term care for our parents and others with disabilities). No more child health or child nutrition programs. No more highway construction. No more homeland security. Oh, and no more Congress.” "The “pledge,” then, is nonsense. But isn’t that true of all political platforms? The answer is, not to anything like the same extent. Many independent analysts believe that the Obama administration’s long-run budget projections are somewhat too optimistic — but, if so, it’s a matter of technical details. Neither President Obama nor any other leading Democrat, as far as I can recall, has ever claimed that up is down, that you can sharply reduce revenue, protect all the programs voters like, and still balance the budget. "And the G.O.P. itself used to make more sense than it does now. Ronald Reagan’s claim that cutting taxes would actually increase revenue was wishful thinking, but at least he had some kind of theory behind his proposals. When former President George W. Bush campaigned for big tax cuts in 2000, he claimed that these cuts were affordable given (unrealistic) projections of future budget surpluses. Now, however, Republicans aren’t even pretending that their numbers add up. "So how did we get to the point where one of our two major political parties isn’t even trying to make sense? "The answer isn’t a secret. The late Irving Kristol, one of the intellectual godfathers of modern conservatism, once wrote frankly about why he threw his support behind tax cuts that would worsen the budget deficit: his task, as he saw it, was to create a Republican majority, “so political effectiveness was the priority, not the accounting deficiencies of government.” In short, say whatever it takes to gain power. That’s a philosophy that now, more than ever, holds sway in the movement Kristol helped shape." For the full editorial, "Downhill With the GOP", by Paul Krugman, NY Times 9/23/10--here is the link:


  1. So what Krugman is saying is that all politicians lie?

    Seems to me that the political machine in the most powerful country on the planet is trying to defend the indefensible. As you know I am not of the right wing politically, but it seems to me that America must wake up to the fact that it cannot continue with it's profligate life style. What worries me, as a Brit living in a country that has enough of it's own problems without being tainted by association with America (Special Relationship and Principle Ally in the War on Terror etc.), is how America will react once the unpalatable truth is realised?

    All great societies in the past have been characterised by periods of expansion and prosperity followed by decline and sometimes that decline has been marked by cataclysmic writhing during that downward spiral. Question is, will America recognise that it's status is changing and manage that change as best it can, or will it lash out blindly at those it perceives to be enemies? The only thing that is certain is that change is coming and for many it will be painful as the power transits from the US to Asia because the rise of both China and India is inevitable.

  2. Doug, that this voodoo even got an audience is mute testimony to the fact that most Americans are drooling morons.

    Get out and vote this November, Doug. It's never been more important.

  3. I think so, Jim. Or, at least in America, one party consistently lies with more illogic than the other.

    You put this long-term and inevitable problem well. This is the major worrying point in politics, Jim---at some point, this-smoke-and-mirrors stuff about taxes and deficits that both parties engage will sooner or later bring about a crisis. How bad will it be? I wish I could say. I look at the Cameron/ Glegg government and I see a lot of cuts to police departments and teaching staff and cuts to kids food programs in schools. I don't follow British politics as well as I should, but it looks like Thatcherism Redux from here. The 70's are over. How long can they beat this old welfare-state dog?

    All right, but maybe there have to be some public budget cuts. But his many? As much as 40 percent in some departments, according to the BBC World Service? Forty percent? How about this right-leaning government asking the well-off to make sacrifices in higher tax rates (or at least penalize them for salting their money offshore and not investing in British jobs) as well as cutting programs many of the the struggling poor and the shrinking middle class need to stay afloat?

    I don't know too many nations in history that had a recovery by putting more teachers out of work. And this same thing is happening in the USA.

    The point is clear to me--both Americans parties have to change. And they won't until they have to--in a crisis.

    The Republican activists in the so-called "Tea Party" are angry, but they show no signs they want to face hard choices like balancing trillions of deficit cuts with tax increases on the middle class or the top 2 percent of Americans who hold down 75 percent of the USA's private wealth. At some point we will have to make tough choices in this country. I wish I could say I see signs this will happen soon. It's still smoke and mirrors.

    Eventually some combination of sane tax policy and military and domestic adjustments will have to be made and we will have to stop our wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and deal responsibly with other nations, not police them for years and years.

    I certainly hope most Americans realize we are not going to be the big dog on the block anymore and can transition from believing we can just "grow our way out of the deficit" or that we can flex our muscles to nations like India, China, Brazil, etc., who are not only on the rise but redrawing the economic map of the world.

  4. Yes, and I need to get a few apathetic friends along as well.

  5. But for whom is the question I would be asking if I had the option?....which candidate is not tainted with corrupt dirty money?....why are they all Republicrats out there?......

    It really seems self defeating to always say "its not worth voting for independents because it's a waste of my vote" - when a vote for either of the main parties is a waste of it anyway (besides being a self fulfilling prophesy that maintains the status quo forever).

  6. I would like to think that there could ever be a 'sane tax policy' and a step-down from the militarised foreign policy/ battleship diplomacy of the NATO axis countries with the US at their head....but I don't believe in their present form that this is possible.

    I don't automatically buy the notion however that if it is not America, the UK and western Europe that is dominating the world it will be China, India or Brazil that are the new masters.

    Indeed I cannot see that such a transfer of economic and ideological hegemony taking place without a nuclear conflict happening, but I think there are alternative scenarios which are actually more likely.

    Whatever way the Anglo-American empire is a dead duck only madmen now believe in it!

  7. It is tough to get any kind of reformist third party into the American mix, AA, and I think some Democrats offer barely a dime's bit of difference to their Republican counterparts. In a two party state, one must think for oneself and choose those candidates who are the most open to reform.

    And, in some districts and states, there is no serious option for a voter.

  8. I don't either AA. I think a multi-polar world would likely be far more stable actually.

    I hope a nuclear conflict isn't in the cards. I was almost certain it would happen in the old Cold War Era, though, so I remain hopefully skeptical.

  9. I fear that is precisely what will make violent conflict the only is a terrible indictment of so-called 'democracy' though isn't it?

  10. Just the thought of it is nauseating.

  11. Yes.

    It does seem to be a situation that cries out for real campaign reform, AA (i.e., remove the monied interests and create a real "marketplace of ideas", not an electoral "knocking shop".)

    What we as a nation would need to go through to get there is anybody's pessimistic guess.

  12. I think this would be the straw that would break the camels back. Either one of two scenarios. One, we finally come to our senses and have a revolt that gets rid of the government that we have and institutes a true reformist agenda or Two, we get a government of a true Christian theocratic agenda and we become a Christian ideological parallel to Iran and attack said country.

    Quite frankly I am leaning to number two. I am seriously considering just getting in my car and driving to Belize.

  13. Fingers crossed for the first one, Stephen.