Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for September 30th, 2010

Riots and protests have swept across Europe, as populations lured into government dependency are upset that there’s no longer enough money to maintain the existing level of redistribution. Here’s an excerpt from a BBC report:

Tens of thousands of people from around Europe have marched across Brussels in a protest against spending cuts by some EU governments. Spain has held a general strike, with protesters in Barcelona clashing with police and torching a police car. Other protests against austerity measures have been held in Greece, Italy, the Irish Republic and Latvia. …In Greece and the Irish Republic, unemployment figures are at their highest level in 10 years, while Spain’s unemployment has doubled in just three years. …Police sealed off the EU headquarters and barricaded banks and shops ahead of the protest in Brussels. It was described by unions as a day of action under the slogan “No to austerity, priority to jobs and growth”.
Americans may be tempted to smugly scoff at Europe’s troubles, but it’s just a matter of time before the same problems afflict America. This chart is based on Congressional Budget Office projections (an optimistic “baseline” scenario and a more realistic “alternative” scenario) showing how the burden of federal government spending is about to skyrocket because of demographic changes and entitlement programs.
 
In the optimistic scenario, the federal government climbs to 45 percent of GDP. Add in state and local government, and that means the total burden of government will be about 60 percent of GDP – higher than France, Sweden, and Greece today. In the less optimistic scenario, the total burden of government will be in uncharted territory, perhaps akin to Cuba or North Korea. Needless to say, America will be convulsed by riots well before this point. 

The solution, of course, is to limit the growth of government. During the Bush-Obama years, howerver, politicians have been heading in the wrong direction.

The only bright side, at least for those who feel good when others suffer, is that Europe’s welfare states will have descended into social chaos and barbarism by the time the riots start in America.

Read Full Post »

While I’m glad Republicans are finally talking about smaller government, I’ve expressed some disappointment with the GOP Pledge to America. Why “reform” Fannie and Freddie, I asked, when the right approach is to get the government completely out of the housing sector. Jacob Sullum of Reason is similarly underwhelmed. He writes:
In the “Pledge to America” they unveiled last week, House Republicans promise they will “launch a sustained effort to stem the relentless growth in government that has occurred over the past decade.” Who better for the job than the folks who ran the government for most of that time? …Republicans, you may recall, had a spending spree of their own during George W. Bush’s recently concluded administration, when both discretionary and total spending doubled — nearly 10 times the growth seen during Bill Clinton’s two terms. In fact, says Veronique de Rugy, a senior research fellow at George Mason University’s Mercatus Center, “President Bush increased government spending more than any of the six presidents preceding him, including LBJ.” Republicans controlled the House of Representatives for six of Bush’s eight years.
Redemption is a good thing, however, so maybe the GOP actually intends to do the right thing this time around. One key test is whether Republicans do a top-to-bottom housecleaning at both the Congressional Budget Office and the Joint Committee on Taxation.
 
These Capitol Hill bureaucracies are not well known, but they have enormous authority and influence. As the official scorekeepers of spending (CBO) and tax (JCT) bills, these two bureaucracies can mortally wound legislation or grease the skids for quick passage.
 
Unfortunately, that clout gets used to dramatically tilt the playing field in favor of bigger government. It was CBO that claimed that Obama’s stimulus created jobs, even though the head of CBO was forced to admit that the jobs-created number was the result of a Keynesian model that was rigged to show exactly that result . You would think that would shame the bureaucrats into producing honest numbers, but CBO continues to produce absurd job creation estimates regardless of the actual rate of unemployment.
 
CBO favors deficits and debt when it is asked to analyze proposals for more spending, but it rather conveniently changes its tune when the discussion shifts to tax increases. Since we’re on the topic of twisted economic analysis, CBO actually relies on a model which, for all intents and purposes, predicts that economic performance is maximized with 100 percent tax rates.
 
The Joint Committee on Taxation, meanwhile, is infamous for its assumption that taxes have no impact – at all – on economic output. In other words, instead of showing a Laffer Curve, JCT would show a straight line, with tax revenues continuing to rapidly climb even as tax rates approach 100 percent.  This creates a huge bias against good tax policy, yet JCT is impervious to evidence that its approach is wildly flawed.
 
And don’t forget that CBO and JCT both bear responsibility for Obamacare since they cranked out preposterous estimates that a giant new entitlement would lead to lower budget deficits
 
Not that we need additional evidence, but the head of the CBO just repeated his higher-taxes-equal-more-growth nonsense in testimony to the Senate Budget Committee. With this type of mindset, is it any surprise that fiscal policy is such a mess?
Douglas Elmendorf said extending breaks due to expire at year’s end would increase demand in the next few years by putting more money in consumers’ pockets. Over the long term, he said, the tax cuts would hurt the economy because the government would have to borrow so much money to finance them that it would begin competing with private companies seeking loans. That, in turn, would drive up interest rates, Elmendorf said.
I’ve already written once about how the GOP sabotaged itself when it didn’t fix the problems with these scorekeeping bureaucracies after 1994. If Republicans take power and don’t raze CBO and JCT, they will deserve to become a permanent minority party.

Read Full Post »

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 2,474 other followers

%d bloggers like this: