FEED THE BEAST

The Washington Times Weekly - - Politics -

Pres­i­dent Obama’s spending pro­pos­als are “the lib­eral equiv­a­lent of the con­ser­va­tive at­tempt to ‘starve the beast,’ ” Ross Douthat writes in a blog at the­at­lantic.com.

“In both the Rea­gan and Bush eras, Repub­li­cans passed tax cuts and ran up large deficits while hop­ing that by starv­ing the fed­eral gov­ern­ment of rev­enue they would curb its long-run growth. Obama’s spending pro­pos­als would ef­fec­tively re­verse that dy­namic — they would cre­ate new spending com­mit­ments and run up large deficits, in the hopes that the dol­lars poured into health care and ed­u­ca­tion will cre­ate a new base­line for gov­ern­ment’s obli­ga­tions, which in turn will cre­ate the po­lit­i­cal space for tax in­creases on the mid­dle class,” Mr. Douthat said.

“Like the starve-the-beast ap­proach, the Obama strat­egy puts off the hard part till to­mor­row: Give them tax cuts to­day, con­ser­va­tives said, and they’ll swal­low spending cuts to­mor­row; give them uni­ver­sal health care, uni­ver­sal pre-K, sub­si­dies for green in­dus­try and all the rest of it to­day, lib­er­als seem to be think­ing, and they’ll be will­ing to pay for it to­mor­row. ...

“But of course none of this will work if the Amer­i­can econ­omy doesn’t es­cape its cur­rent down­ward spi­ral. If you’re run­ning enor­mous deficits and don’t have any eco­nomic growth to show for it, it doesn’t mat­ter how pop­u­lar your so­cial-spending pro­grams are in the short run, as more than a few ex-Latin Amer­i­can leaders will be happy to at­test.

“And what does make the Obama strat­egy mis­guided is that it looks in­creas­ingly like a sub­sti­tute for a de­pres­sion-fight­ing strat­egy — and what’s worse, a sub­sti­tute that has the po­ten­tial to ac­tu­ally make mat­ters worse, when Obama, lib­er­al­ism, and Amer­ica all des­per­ately need things to get bet­ter.”

Greg Pierce can be reached at 202/636-3285 or gpierce@wash­ing­ton­times.com.

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