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Balanced Fare: We Report, You Deride

Monday, November 11, 2002

The Times Sticks The Knife In Deeper

One little election, and the Times has surrendered. Commenting on Bush's economic agenda, we read this:

No `Rubinomics' for Them

Behind the emerging Bush economic strategy is a shift away from the bipartisan consensus of the late 1990's that fiscal responsibility should come first when setting budget policy. Instead the administration is reasserting conservative economic orthodoxy and giving itself more room for tax cuts.

...White House officials say there is nothing to support the primary economic benefit claimed by proponents of fiscal responsibility, that cutting deficits or running surpluses puts downward pressure on interest rates.

"As an economist, I don't buy that there's a link between swings in the budget deficit of the size we see in the United States and interest rates," Mr. Hubbard said. "There's just no evidence."

Indeed, Democrats are having a difficult time invoking the interest-rate argument because rates have declined sharply even as the budget has moved from surplus to deficit in the last two years.

...The White House formulation — that economic growth leads to an improved budget situation, not the other way around — reminds many analysts of the assertions of the so-called supply-siders in the 1980's, when Republicans promised that tax cuts would pay for themselves.

Stanley Collender, managing director of the federal budget consulting group at Fleishman-Hillard, the public relations firm, summed up the administration's fiscal philosophy this way, "Cut taxes because we have a surplus, and cut taxes because we have a deficit."

Democrats agree that running moderate deficits during a downturn is appropriate. But they say the administration is leading the nation down a path of more or less permanent deficits.

Representative John M. Spratt Jr. of South Carolina, the senior Democrat on the House Budget Committee, said the nation would burden future generations with heavy government debt and find it even more difficult to keep Social Security and Medicare afloat as the population ages.

So far, voters do not seem to care. When he asked voters this week to pick among 12 reasons to support Democrats, Stanley Greenberg, a Democratic pollster, found that dealing with the budget deficit came in dead last.

Emphasis added, just to demonstrate that sometimes we read this stuff as well as link to it.

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