Political Economy category archive
Jared Bernstein, writing at Philly.com, struggles to understand why the Republican Party, with control of the legislative and executive branches of the federal government, has been so far unable to accomplish their most vocally-stated goal: repeal of the Affordable Care Act. He warns that his speculation is just that, speculation, but it is a thoughtful piece and worth the few minutes of your time reading it requires.
Here’s a bit:
. . . Republicans’ efforts to repeal and replace have run smack into these contradictions. They propose to seriously hurt some of the very people who helped put Trump in the White House to partially offset the costs of wasteful tax cuts for the rich. They say they want to help the disadvantaged, but their actions betray such claims, and their falsehoods have been most clearly exposed in this health-care debate.
There may still be enough representativeness left in our democracy to block such venal efforts. But then again, there may not. Stay tuned.
Sam and his guest discuss what happened when Kansas tried to implement the Laughable Curve. It wasn’t pretty.
At the Boston Review, Lawrence B. Glickman examines the evolution of the conservative political vocabulary. He points out the much of what passes for conservative discourse has its roots in opposition to Franklin Roosevelt and the New Deal and is as flawed and fraudulent now as it was then. A snippet:
“Free enterprise” was an ambiguous phrase that acquired meaning mainly as the opposite of the New Deal. Where the New Deal stood for public spending on infrastructure and cultural institutions, free enterprise claimed to represent “frugality and thrift—words that I doubt are in the Washington dictionary,” as the presidential candidate Dwight D. Eisenhower said on the campaign trail in 1952. Where the New Deal established principles of business regulation, free enterprisers defined such rules as “straightjackets” that harmed economic freedom and efficiency. As Henry Hazlitt, the popular conservative economics writer, claimed in 1956, “government intervention in the market economy always finally results in a worse situation than otherwise would have existed.”
Thom and his guest explore the history and goals of the radical right. Listen up.
Eugene Robinson considers cycles. A snippet (emphasis added).
The states are supposed to be laboratories for testing government policy. For five years, Kansas’ Republican governor, Sam Brownback, conducted the nation’s most radical exercise in trickle-down economics – a “real live experiment,” he called it. He and the GOP-controlled Legislature slashed the state’s already-low tax rates, eliminated state income tax for most owner-operated businesses and sharply reduced vital government services. These measures were supposed to deliver “a shot of adrenaline into the heart of the Kansas economy,” Brownback said.
It ended up being a shot of poison. Growth rates lagged behind those in neighboring states and the nation as a whole. Deficits mounted to unsustainable levels. Services withered. Brownback had set in motion a vicious cycle, not a virtuous one.
The assumption that underlies Republican fondness for the laughable curve is both simple and malign. It is the belief that there is no such thing as the common good.
Via Southern Beale, who discusses what’s the matter with Kansas.
Lee Camp explores how our contemporary robber barons create artificial scarcity so as to make themselves richer and the rest of us poorer.
The Portland Press Herald carries a Washington Post story that does the math and the answer to the equation ain’t pretty. A snippet:
. . . President Trump’s fiscal 2018 budget serves a valuable, if unintentional, purpose: to demonstrate how utterly irrelevant his brand of Republican ideology is to solving the problem. With Medicare and Social Security retirement benefits immune to cuts, defense guaranteed an increase and taxes slated for trillions of dollars’ worth of reductions over the next decade, Trump’s plan achieves a balanced budget in 2018 only by invoking an improbable level of economic growth – and by imposing lower levels of spending for all other purposes that would be harsh and shortsighted, in the politically unrealistic event they were ever enacted. Nondefense discretionary spending, already at a post-1962 low of 3.3 percent of economic output, would dwindle to a mere 1.4 percent of output by 2027. This is not a formula for downsizing government; it’s a formula for destroying it.
Image via Job’s Anger.