Is the tide turning?:
After the Flimflam, by Paul Krugman, Commentary, NYTimes: It has been a big
week for budget documents. In fact, members of Congress have presented not one
but two full-fledged, serious proposals... Before I get to that, however, let me
talk briefly about the third proposal presented this week — the one that isn’t
serious, that’s essentially a cruel joke.
Way back in 2010, when everybody in Washington seemed determined to anoint
Representative Paul Ryan as the ultimate Serious, Honest Conservative, I
pronounced him a flimflam man. Even then, his proposals were obviously
fraudulent... Since then, his budgets have gotten even flimflammier. ...
The good news is that Mr. Ryan’s thoroughly unconvincing policy-wonk act seems,
finally, to have worn out its welcome. ... This time..., quite a few pundits and
reporters have greeted his release with the derision it deserves.
And, with that, let’s turn to the serious proposals.
Unless you’re a very careful news reader, you’ve probably heard about only one
of these proposals, the one released by Senate Democrats. And let’s be clear: By
comparison with the Ryan plan,... this is a very reasonable plan... It is,
however, an extremely cautious proposal... the plan really should be calling for substantial though temporary spending
increases. It doesn’t.
But there’s a plan that does: the proposal
from the Congressional Progressive Caucus ... which calls for substantial
new spending now ... offset by major deficit reduction later in the next decade,
largely though not entirely through higher taxes on the wealthy, corporations
and pollution. ...
There are no Ryan-style magic asterisks,... this honest proposal ... rests on
solid macroeconomic analysis, not the fantasy “expansionary austerity” economics
... that Mr. Ryan continues to espouse despite the doctrine’s total failure in
And it’s refreshing to see someone break with the usual Washington notion that
political “courage” means proposing that we hurt the poor while sparing the
rich. No doubt the caucus plan is too audacious to have any chance...; but the
same can be said of the Ryan plan.
So where is this all going? Realistically, we aren’t likely to get a Grand
Bargain any time soon. Nonetheless, my sense is that there is some real movement
here, and it’s in a direction conservatives won’t like.
As I said, Mr. Ryan’s efforts are finally starting to get the derision they
deserve, while progressives seem, at long last, to be finding their voice.
Little by little, Washington’s fog of fiscal flimflam seems to be lifting.
Posted by Mark Thoma on Friday, March 15, 2013 at 12:24 AM in Budget Deficit, Economics, Politics |