Tyler Cowen writes a column that is both good and bad. It is good for what it says: it debunks fiscal illusions. It is bad for what it does not say, and for what it does not say it tends to deepen our political illusions. You see, for some reason Tyler Cowen does not mention the obvious solution at the ballot box to the very real fiscal illusion problems he writes about. If we simply stopped electing Republicans–if we simply elected presidents who would choose policies designed by the technocrats of the Clinton and Obama administrations and elected senators and representatives who voted for them–we would be absolutely fine.
“The problem is that a heavy majority of the supposed fiscally conservative congressmen, although passionate about cutting government spending in the abstract, are in truth no better able to find specific dollars of budget cuts that they can support or defend to their constituents than are the Democrats. Factoring in their immutable desire to cut taxes, I believe that if the Republicans were in full control, we would have larger budget deficits in the coming years than if the Obama crowd retained power. This is what happened in a big way when Presidents Reagan and GW Bush took office promising to cut the debt while also cutting taxes. Spending, deficits, and debt soared during their terms, relative to their respective Democratic predecessors. There is no reason to think anything has changed…
Rep. Paul Ryan’s supposedly tough long-term plan to cut spending doesn’t balance the budget until 50 years from now and runs up another $62 trillion in national debt in the meantime…” [emphasis mine]
Democratic “investment” = GOP “tax cuts” = increased government spending.
“The current Republican Party lacks a similar basic, manageable agenda. It’s all or nothing. And the GOP no longer seems to have the capacity to get policy plans developed into legislation that is written, negotiated, and signed into law. The GOP has made a political choice to cut off a lot of its policy capacity. That’s why it has no budget plans other than Ryan’s super-unpopular one. It’s why it didn’t come up with any meaningful alternative to health reform. It’s not because Republicans are dumb — although Boehner and his allies were no match for Nancy Pelosi in a battle of tactics and determination — but because offering an alternative would mean negotiating, finding areas of agreement and disagreement.”
Now this is punditry. Predicted circa July 2010.