Friday, September 17, 2010

Why Focus on the Bush "Tax Cuts" Over the Bush "Spending Increases"?

From this article:

"So if the feds were generally pulling in more bucks each year [during the 2000s] - even with those tax cuts that so decimated federal revenue - where did the deficits come from? 

Oh, that's right: From massively expanded spending that happened both under a lying GOP Congress and a feckless Democratic majority. 

The story of the Bush years isn't to be found on the revenue side of the ledger, but on the spending side [see charts in article]. This talk about whether tax cuts are irresponsible given the fiscal pickle we're in is nothing more than a way of diverting attention from what Milton Friedman identified years ago as the true cost of government: how much the government shells out in a given year. We're on the hook for it, either through higher taxes now or higher taxes later. 

We're in a lousy economy and most folks would agree that it's not a great idea to hike taxes or create huge new entitlements and regulations that will take years to figure out. That sort of action creates exactly the sort of uncertainty that freezes people. So do desperate attempts to keep house prices from falling, zombified banks and car companies from going belly up, etc. 

The one thing the federal government could conceivably do is bring some commitment to freezing or rolling back spending and intervention to some baseline. The first rule when you find yourself in a deep hole? Bitch and moan that it's the other guy's fault. The second rule? Stop digging. Yes, I know, it's unlikely but not impossible that the feds would actually stop spending (go check Clinton's first four years). 

But this much is certain: To talk about how 'tax cuts' inexorably add to deficits ignores the amount of tribute that poured into D.C. throughout most of the '00s. It's a fundamentally faulty and fruitless discussion." 
- Editor Nick Gillespie 

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