Guess Who's Coming to the Inflation Hawk Dinner?
A certain famous liberal columnist.
8:35 AM, Mar 11, 2010 • By MATTHEW CONTINETTI
Welcome to the team! Slight addendum: Contrary to Kinsley, one guy has put out a way to get out from under the national debt (though right now he might not be in "a position to act").
The resistance to that plan is considerable, of course. Republicans and conservatives come under plenty of fire for resisting tax increases to balance the books. But they aren't the only stubborn ones. Read E.J. Dionne today, and you see that Democrats and liberals are just as adamant in their refusal to back serious spending cuts. Here's Dionne on the Ryan Roadmap:
How is saving Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid from insolvency "weakening social insurance"? Beats me. Just to be clear, the Roadmap preserves the current system for everyone 55 and older. And it sustains the basic programs for everyone else.
Dionne also says the Roadmap "would still leave us with a deficit of 5 percent of GDP in 2034 and would only then start dropping." But such an argument makes the perfect the enemy of the good. The CBO says that current policies will leave us with a deficit that is 5 percent of GDP in 2034 -- but, if nothing is done, spending explodes in the following years to the point where the deficit increases to 7 percent of GDP in 2059 (and keeps going from there). Consider that scenario, and the Roadmap doesn't look too shabby.
What few liberals and Democrats will say openly is that taxes must rise, and rise significantly, in order to pay for the welfare state. But the sort of tax increases required just to finance the government programs already in place would have deleterious effects on growth, employment, investment, innovation, risk-taking, and economic dynamism. These are real costs. And they wouldn't prevent Pelosi, Reid, and Obama's heirs from spending the additional dollar.
Government spending has emerged as a vote-driving issue. It's behind a lot of the resistance to the Obama health care plan. It motivates the Tea Party. One day soon -- maybe not in 2010, maybe not in 2012, but soon -- voters will have to decide which road to follow. As Obama likes to say, that's what elections are for.
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