Thursday, April 21, 2005

Taxing Experience

While the Moose is not an economist nor does he play one on the Internet, you don't need to be a Nobel Laureate to realize that there may be some hard times ahead.

Back in the '90s, the Moose was always amused by the conservative economists' explanation of the prosperity of that decade. When the Clinton economic package was debated back in '93 ,such right wing devotees of Hayek and Laffer as Dick Armey and Phil Gramm warned that it would result in a slowdown, recession, depression or worse.

Then, it was passed and, rather than creating economic endtimes, prosperity was all around us. Perplexed, the Moose asked his propeller head colleagues at the Heritage Foundation and elsewhere to explain how could we raise taxes and enjoy a bounty of riches. Twisting themselves into the rhetorical equivalent of a pretzel, they attempted to attribute the prosperity to the Reagan tax cuts that occurred in the early eighties (of course, Reagan also agreed to tax hikes that were conveniently overlooked). It is truly amazing what a blind allegiance to ideology will allow one to argue. Maybe, it's the power of faith.

Fast forward to the W. years. Once again, the theologians of the supply side promised us that the series of Bush tax cuts would guarantee economic nirvana and cures to male pattern baldness and the heartbreak of psoriasis. However, it appears that in actuality the plan has only delivered an anemic recovery that is now in jeopardy of turning south. There is even talk of "stagflation" in the air.

When the Moose was grazing in the Big Apple earlier in the week, he even heard fears that the venerable General Motors could be in jeopardy of going into Chapter 11. My, it's good that Congress did its work and passed that Bankruptcy bill just in the nick of time. Americans are burdened with debt, job growth is slowed, the stock market is falling, energy prices, the deficit, interest and poverty rates are all rising and the GOP'ers are going to offer a helping hand to those who want to foreclose on your possessions!

Now we know the meaning of compassionate conservatism - the Repo Man needs some love, too.

The Republican Congress increasingly appears out of touch with the economic concerns of the country. Balz and Weisman provide this analysis in today's Washington Post,

"Inflation and interest rates are rising, stock values have plunged, a tank of gas induces sticker shock, and for nearly a year, wages have failed to keep up with the cost of living.

"Yet in Washington, the political class has been consumed with the death of a brain-damaged woman in Florida, the ethics of the House majority leader, and the fate of the Senate filibuster.

"The disconnect between pocketbook concerns of ordinary Americans and the preoccupations of their politicians has helped send President Bush's approval ratings on the economy down, while breeding discontent with Congress. The problem has yet to grow into a political wave that could sweep significant numbers of lawmakers from power next year, but both parties face risks if they fail to pivot their attention to economic issues."

This is an opening for a JFK style Democratic program of economic growth that both addresses with the current slowdown and also the long-term challenge of global competitiveness. Or maybe the Moose is merely underestimating the faith-healing powers of the High Priests of the Supply-Side.
-- Posted at 8:32 AM | Link to this post | Email this post