A Tiny, Temporary Break in the Force?

November 18th, 2011 at 8:24 am

If an army crosses the Rubicon, but immediately scurries back to the other side, did they really cross the Rubicon?  If a vicious alcoholic who’s been plastered every day for years manages to spend a full day sober only to go on a horrific bender the next day, should we give him credit for his flash experiment with sobriety?

I say “yes,” and I give the R’s on the supercommittee credit for offering a few hundred billion in tax cuts through ending some tax expenditures.  That breaks the Norquist pledge and a bad day for Grover is a good day for America.

But, of course, they didn’t just cross back to the other side of the Rubicon or crack open a lite beer.  They turned and ran back across as fast as their tax-rate cutting legs could carry them.  In exchange for about $300 billion of new tax revenue (over ten years) they tried to extract $3.6 trillion.  And by locking in new rate cuts, they’d ensure that the next round of deficit reduction—a round that will have to come, given the failure of the committee to achieve the needed long term savings—all the savings would have to come from spending cuts.

So, good for the D’s (so far) for resisting, and I stand by my view from the other day that given the automatic triggers, no deal is better than a bad deal.

Still, once you’ve crossed the river and stayed sober for even just a day, even if you blew it immediately thereafter, you’ve shown us something new.  There’s been a tiny break in the force.  It was quickly sealed, but for a moment, it was there.  And that may turn out to be important.


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3 comments in reply to "A Tiny, Temporary Break in the Force?"

  1. JW Mason says:

    given the automatic triggers, no deal is better than a bad deal.

    So just to be clear, you think the automatic triggers are a good thing? You would prefer that Congress not cancel them?

    So in the absence of tax increases, you support an across the board cut of $1.2 trillion in federal spending. What do you think this would do to unemployment?

  2. foosion says:

    The Rs did not offer any tax increases except in the most formalistic sense. They tried to get a net $3.5 trillion tax cut, heavily weighted towards the best off. Just because they called it a tax increase doesn’t make it so.

    It was a PR stunt, not any substantive move in the right direction.

  3. Th says:

    In the lead in to the stimulus vote in 2009, Mark Zandi and others calculated multipliers for the various potential changes to show which would have greater impact than others. I have not seen anything done going in the other direction. Which deficit reduction policies will have the best and worst impacts on our economy?

    Using Zandi’s chart and going in reverse, raising taxes looks to be the least harmful way. Thoughts?