The sad truth of the last two two-term Republican presidents is that their economic premise, the key part of their economic game plan, simply has not done what it’s supposed to do.
That is, cutting taxes, especially on upper-income Americans, does not generate so much economic activity that it replaces all the lost I.R.S. take and then some. At least those have been the results so far.
Trickle-down is an enduring conservative fantasy but it doesn’t exist. Tax-cuts are a dishonest economic policy because conservatives are also all about increasing defense spending and growing the government, despite what they will tell you. As Stein notes, you can’t have both:
Mr. McCain wants to extend many of President Bush’s income tax cuts and to reduce taxes on corporations. But the facts of life are that we have a large budget deficit, even though some other nations have even larger deficits as percentages of gross domestic product. We have to pay interest on it. As a people and a nation, we owe this money in large part to foreigners — and that can have political implications. The facts of life are that federal spending is almost all untouchable: the military, Social Security, Medicare, interest on the debt, pensions. The discretionary part is tiny.
Every category of federal spending is likely to grow. This means that if we don’t raise taxes, if we keep doing what we’re doing, the immense deficits and debt will not go away — and will probably grow.
The question is simply this: Do we want to step up to the plate like responsible people — I hate to say this, but the last responsible people who actually did this were named Bill and Bob (Clinton and Rubin) — and shoulder our responsibilities? Or do we just kick the can down the road a bit and leave the mess for our children and their children?
And if we do raise taxes, should people who are barely getting by pay them or should people who are getting by very nicely pay them?
It’s nice to see someone from the conservative world step up and be an adult, doing some honest truth-talking instead of telling us what we want to hear.
Ben Stein is right. You cannot “starve the beast.” All you can do is pass the bill along to the next generation. That’s been the policy of Bush II. But it is neither sound economic policy nor responsible.
And now McCain is touting more of the same?