Sunday, December 05, 2010

Pillars of wisdom

It seems to me that there are two kinds of Americans these days: the uninformed and the misinformed although one has to allow for considerable interbreeding. Is this more true than it used to be or are they just more self assured now that we have multi-billion dollar industries devoted to supporting both mental conditions?

At any rate, it's increasingly customary in the world of blogging in these latter days, to suffer unrestrained and personal attacks in proportion to how well one backs up one's thesis with facts and figures and of course the fury is loudest when one of the fragile pillars of the Republican temple are leaned upon. So let's have another go at it and see what happens. Having been subjected to the unending right wing Jeremiad about the massive public debt and the question of who bears responsibility for it, I thought it interesting to show what the U.S. Office of Management and Budget can tell us about where we are now.

First and most obvious of all is that we're nowhere near the level of debt we had by the end of WW II, although that may be as expected, but that debt fell sharply and almost uninterruptedly until Ronald Reagan established forever the two regnant principles of Republican policy: Debt doesn't matter and tax cuts pay for themselves by creating businesses and jobs. Looking above, it's hard to see the evidence. High marginal taxes of nearly three times as high as today's were in effect as the debt fell, Debt began to rise sharply in response to Reagan's tax cuts and what the chart fails to display is that unemployment during the Teflon years rose to 9.6%, essentially the current levels we have today. Neither does it show that no new private sector jobs were added during the years of the Bush II tax cuts.

Again, what you don't see is how expensive the S&L collapse under Bush I was or how quiet was the Right about Bush's bailout of an industry that collapsed largely because of deregulation. Uninformed? Misinformed or just hypocritical?

We can see elsewhere however, that during the Clinton years, characterized by hysterical outrage at the "confiscatory" tax structure of the Democrats, employment soared and the debt sank, not to resume it's climb until the Commander Guy outdid even Reagan in illustrating that, no, tax cuts don't pay for themselves, don't create jobs and do as they did in the 1920's precipitate bubbles, busts and recessions.

So, I'm waiting for the slurs about my parentage, defective IQ and the rest of the typical projectiles, or at least the catechism of unsupportable maxims we've heard from every Republican since the debt began to climb, but it's my story and I'm sticking to it.

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