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Saturday, August 18, 2012

Sachs: Losing the Battle over Government

Jeff Sachs says that we need a third party to save us:

America has lost the battle over government, by Jeffrey Sachs, Commentary, Financial Times: ...There is considerable controversy about Mr Ryan’s budget plan... Still, American liberals ... who are now vehemently blasting Mr Ryan’s budget should take note. Their candidate has also already accepted a brutal shrinkage of government programs in coming years. ... Whether Mr Obama or Mr Romney wins, the “non-security” discretionary budget – for education, job skills, infrastructure, science and technology, space, environmental protection, alternative energy and climate change adaptation – is on the chopping block. Mr Obama’s budget would shrink non-security discretionary programs from an already insufficient 3.1 per cent of GDP in 2011 to 1.8 per cent in 2020. That is the “liberal” alternative.
In bemoaning Mr Obama’s budget, I do not mean to equate it with Mr Ryan’s. Mr Ryan’s budget is nothing short of heartless in the face of the dire crisis facing America’s poor. It is also reckless... Yet the sad truth is that the Democrats offer no progressive alternative. Both parties are accomplices to the premeditated asphyxiation of the state. ...
Many Americans will say that they are dodging the European curse by keeping taxation so low but they should look again. Northern Europe (Germany, the Netherlands, Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden) gets great value for its tax revenues: lower budget deficits, lower unemployment rates, lower public debt-to-GDP ratios, lower poverty rates, greater social mobility, better job training, longer life expectancy, lower greenhouse gas emissions, higher reported life satisfaction and greater macroeconomic stability.
America’s two political parties depend on wealthy contributors to finance their presidential campaigns. These donors want and expect their taxes to stay low. As a result, social divisions, broken infrastructure, laggard educational attainments, high carbon emissions and chronic budget deficits are likely to continue no matter who is elected, even though the public supports higher taxes on corporations and the rich.
Only a big political realignment, perhaps spurred by a third party bold enough to campaign on free social media rather than expensive television advertising, is likely to break the status quo. Until then, the demise of public goods and services will continue apace.

And the thing is, after going against his party's interests, Obama gets no credit at all from the Very Serious People pushing for this approach to deficit reduction.

I hate having to choose the candidate who will do the least harm instead of a candidate that I can support enthusiastically.

    Posted by on Saturday, August 18, 2012 at 10:14 AM in Economics, Politics, Social Insurance | Permalink  Comments (27)


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