Make A Much Better Case

October 3, 2012 § Leave a comment

“I would not argue that tax increases are per se stimulative. It all depends on circumstances. But it is clear from the experience of the 1990s that they can play a very big role in reducing the budget deficit and are not necessarily a drag on growth. And the obvious experience of the 2000s is that tax cuts increase the deficit and don’t necessarily do anything for growth. Those arguing otherwise need to make a much better case than they have so far.”

  • Bruce Bartlett, senior policy advisor in the Reagan and George H.W. Bush administrations, August 5, 2012
  • Source: The Clinton Tax Challenge For Republicans
  • Context: Bruce Bartlett has been very critical of Republican economic policies, specifically their refusal to even consider raising any taxes to tackle economic problems. In this piece, Bartlett argues that there is no historical support for the Republican policies, yet there is evidence which shows that raising taxes does help the economy. In order to justify their policies, Bartlett accuses the Republicans of resorting to “economic revisionism”:

“However, there are still a few people around old enough to remember the 1990s and 2000s. Even without looking up government statistics, they know that the 1990s were a time when the economy boomed, while the 2000s were a period of economic stagnation. This has created a problem for Republicans, leading to economic revisionism.”


Misplaced Rage

July 23, 2012 § Leave a comment

On August 12, 2009, the Daily Beast published The GOP’s Misplaced Rage, a piece by Bruce Bartlett. In it, Bartlett, domestic policy advisory to Ronald Reagan, Treasury official under George H.W. Bush, and leading conservative economist, is highly critical of today’s Republican Party and modern day conservatism.

I think conservative anger is misplaced. To a large extent, Obama is only cleaning up messes created by Bush.

Conservative protesters should remember that the recession, which led to so many of the policies they oppose, is almost entirely the result of Bush’s policies. According to the National Bureau of Economic Research, the recession began in December 2007—long before Obama was even nominated. And the previous recession ended in November 2001, so the current recession cannot be blamed on cyclical forces that Bush inherited.

As an economist himself, he points out the errors Bush’s economic policies which directly caused the recession and on page two he lists the statistics which disproves what many conservatives have led themselves, or have been told, to believe about the “success” of the Bush era economy. Regarding the tax cuts favored by conservatives today, he writes:

Conservatives delude themselves that the Bush tax cuts worked and that the best medicine for America’s economic woes is more tax cuts; at a minimum, any tax increase would be economic poison. They forget that Ronald Reagan worked hard to pass one of the largest tax increases in American history in September 1982, the Tax Equity and Fiscal Responsibility Act, even though the nation was still in a recession that didn’t end until November of that year. Indeed, one could easily argue that the enactment of that legislation was a critical prerequisite to recovery because it led to a decline in interest rates. The same could be said of Clinton’s 1993 tax increase, which many conservatives predicted would cause a recession but led to one of the biggest economic booms in history.

According to the CBO, federal taxes will amount to just 15.5 percent of GDP this year. That’s 2.2 percent of GDP less than last year, 3.3 percent less than in 2007, and 1.8 percent less than the lowest percentage recorded during the Reagan years. If conservatives really believe their own rhetoric, they should be congratulating Obama for being one of the greatest tax cutters in history.

He concludes:

Until conservatives once again hold Republicans to the same standard they hold Democrats, they will have no credibility and deserve no respect. They can start building some by admitting to themselves that Bush caused many of the problems they are protesting.

Not Like Making Cookies

July 9, 2012 § Leave a comment

On August 13, 2011, Bruce Bartlett, domestic policy advisory to Ronald Reagan, Treasury official under George H.W. Bush, and leading conservative economist, posted an article titled “Why the Reagan Tax Cut Worked in 1981 and Why It Wouldn’t Work Today” in which he argues that tax cuts will not stimulate today’s economy:

“The truth is that the Reagan tax cut never came close to paying for itself, but neither was it expected to lose as much revenue as it did. And while it was highly stimulative, that is only because the economic and financial circumstances of the time made it so. Reenacting some version of the Reagan tax cut under today’s economic conditions would not bring about similar results.

He goes on to conclude:

“Making economic policy is not like making cookies and you can’t use a cookie-cutter approach. Policies need to be crafted to the circumstances. I believe Reagan’s policies were appropriate to the economic conditions of the early 1980s. Today’s economic problems require a very different set of policies.

Context: Bruce Bartlett has on several occasions expressed his dissatisfaction with the current policies of the Republican Party. He believes the conservatives of today have distanced themselves from real conservative principles. He was very critical of the Bush administration and of several of the 2012 Republican presidential candidates, going as far as calling Rick Perry an idiot during an interview with CNN (includes video).

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