Economic Policy Chutzpah

September 16th, 2011 at 12:22 am

It was my fate today to debate numerous conservatives on MS and CNBC.

I’m still thinking about the release of the Census data and the look-back at the lost decade for the poor and middle class.  With figures like the one below in mind—the vividly different performance in middle-class income for working age households in the 1990s versus the 2000s–I was particularly struck by the arguments I was hearing.

These conservatives are very critical, of course, of the anti-recessionary measures of the Obama administration, but don’t have alternatives to move the jobless rate.  It’s all corporate tax cuts and deregulation, which in case you’ve missed it, is their usual agenda, now opportunistically mapped onto the current jobs crisis.  With after-tax corporate profits at historic highs and no evidence at all that shuttering the EPA would lead to jobs, the arguments lack substance.  But that’s not my point.

What’s striking is that their rap basically amounts to this: “Yes, we followed the wrong economic map, lost a decade for the middle class and ultimately drove the economy off a cliff.  But we don’t like the way you’re fixing the wreckage, so give us the keys back.”

They’re taking advantage of the fact that most people, including economists who should know better, like John Taylor, don’t do counterfactuals—what would likely have occurred absent stimulus measures—and saying, in essence:

“We may have made things really bad, but they’re still bad, ergo, you failed.”

“You haven’t solved the recession (and sure, we’ve fought your efforts every step of the way) so ignore that we botched the recovery and give us back the damn keys!”

I’m obviously being reductionist and it wasn’t just R’s that ignored the market failures and bubbles building in the 2000s recovery.  But if “chutzpah” is when a child kills his parents and begs the court for mercy because he’s an orphan, then all this junk about tax cuts and deregulation is the economic version of chutzpah: “yes, I killed the economy, your honor, but with unemployment this high, have mercy…and let me take over right now!”


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8 comments in reply to "Economic Policy Chutzpah"

  1. general c. san desist says:

    …seems your angst is justified…you’re dealing with people holding the perspective of the Merovingian kings & feudal lords whom believe in the maintenance of serfdom, illiteracy, and the Inquisition, lest the majority lose their intimate and enduring relationship to mundane realities.

    The term knowledge will set one free is not music to the ears of the right. An enlightened society is…to aspire to, Utopian fallacy, pipe dream…or something to smother in the cradle?

    Go get ’em, jared… spread the facts, call to task spin & when all else fails, the come back of…’your smarter than that’ approach shames them to silence.

  2. Jeff H says:

    You did a great job yesterday on the Rev’s show. But in reality, had we as a nation elected McCain, there wouldn’t be a debt problem to solve, and we would have spent trillionS on stimulus.

    See, debt and deficits only matter when a Democrat is in office.

  3. marcel says:

    “It was my fate today to debate numerous conservatives on MS and CNBC.”

    You must have been truly, truly evil in your last life.

  4. Dan Furlano says:

    Doesn’t seem there is much of a difference between conservative and liberal policies. That should have been evident when democrats bemoaned that the debt is indeed the issue.

  5. Tyler says:

    We should eliminate the corporate income tax, which would make America the most business-friendly nation in the world.

    Democrats hold onto the corporate income tax because they think the deficit matters. They have been successfully propagandized by the Right.

  6. RMGHicks says:

    If its in 2010 dollars as indicated, I’m shocked that it was worse in ’92. That was not a great time, I know because I graduated from college just in time for the crash of ’87. I wound up in graduate school and got my MS in ’92. It wasn’t nearly as dire and bleak as this. Of course the downward trend is not as prolonged. (V- shaped recover) But still…I’m just sayin’….

  7. San Fran Sam says:

    When all you have is a hammer (tax cuts and deregulation) everything looks like a nail (tax burdens and red tape).

  8. PaulJ says:

    The lack of any plan by Republicans other than “let’s go back to what we did before” struck me as well. I wrote about that in my last blog entry on the Romney economic plan:

    What I’m encountering these days is the view that somehow government spending is intrinsically different than business spending. Somehow, when you pay someone to spray your lawn with chemicals you’re not draining America’s wealth, but when you pay taxes that go into fixing the pothole in the street in front of your lawn, that’s taking away wealth from Americans. I try saying “spending is spending,” whether by government or business, but they can’t see it. Is there some economic jargon that can be thrown back in these discussions?