Snippets from the Papes

June 16th, 2012 at 4:38 pm

A few random observations from this AMs papers:

–It’s just really rich to hear Republicans in Congress arguing that the President should have gone through them with his new anti-deportation executive order.  Sure, the traditional process is a better way to make laws, but that process is totally broken, and the pox is decidedly not on both their houses.  It’s on the conservatives, some of whom have explicitly said their goal is to block the President.  It would be deeply irresponsible to the nation to allow them to constrain good policy like this if you can avoid it.

–I thought this WaPo oped fell into that pox-on-both-houses trap.  It accuses both President Obama and Gov Romney of not having credible deficit reduction plans, in part because they don’t go after entitlements.  In fact, the President’s budget, as scored not just by the White House but by CBO, stabilizes the debt/GDP ratio over the 10-year budget window (see Table 1 here, bottom line).  It also cuts hundreds of billions from Medicare and Medicaid (some will recall Republicans, including Romney, attacking the President both for not going after entitlements and for cutting Medicare).

And don’t give me, “yeah, but what about the next 10 years?!”  There’s just no point at all in refusing to recognize the sustainability in the 10-year plan based on long-term questions that no one knows the answer to, most pointedly: will health care reform significantly slow the growth in health care costs?  If it doesn’t, then it’s back to the drawing board but that’s yet to be seen.

The most comparable score we have regarding Gov Romney’s proposal—which is understandably much less fleshed out than the President’s (presidents submit budgets; candidates are strategically vague)—is the Tax Policy Center’s estimate that his tax cuts would add $5 trillion to the deficit over ten years.

So no, they’re not really particularly comparable.

To be clear, with fiscal austerity whacking economies here and abroad, a more timely editorial would call for bigger deficits right now.  And to be fair, the WaPo ed board has a point re the President only asking for sacrifices from the wealthy—eventually, our fiscal health will require broader tax increases.  Still, that’s a stark contrast with Romney/Ryan’s large tax cuts for the wealthy, not to mention the 97% of House R’s who have pledged never to raise taxes.

In other words, the deficit hawks over at the WaPo should be more careful with their talons.

–There’s an interesting dynamic afoot re the high-stakes Greek election tomorrow.  Here, in the UK, and in Europe itself, central banks and governments have signaled to markets that they’re will to do more to promote growth.  The message has been: should the Greece electorate reject the austerity conditions that come with the loans they need, they may not get those loans and that could push them out of the Eurozone.  Were this to occur, the central banks are saying, we stand ready to try to contain the damage with lower interest rates and loans to both banks and sovereigns.

Why is this interesting?  Because they should be doing this anyway.  Paul K has often said something to the effect that if we were attacked by Martians, we’d pull out all the stops to defend ourselves such that we’d finally shift from fiscal contraction to pro-growth mode.  Well, the public institutions that should be promoting growth over austerity right now are suggesting they’d treat a Greek exit like an attack from Mars.  It’s too bad that’s what it takes to get them to turn.


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2 comments in reply to "Snippets from the Papes"

  1. Fred Donaldson says:

    It’s not a news flash that The Washington Post wants Congress to cut benefits paid for by the middle class, so private firms can benefit by replacing Medicare and Social Security.

    Anyone who has read the WaPo-embraced Fiscal Times, knows this is part of a multi-year “education” of the American public to insure most of us will accept financial self-immolation. The goal is for the peons to exhibit a stupid, but serious, approving nod, while the politicians also reduce corporate, inheritance and capital gains taxes.

    Stay tuned for the lameduck quackery.

  2. Michael says:

    Deficit reduction is sociopathy.