Thursday, April 16, 2015

Rubio: The "Fresh Young Face" On The Republican Voodoo Economics Zombie

(click on image to enlarge)

(Tom Toles, once great Washington Post Bezos Bugle)

Matt O'Brien provides a perspective on Sen. Marco "Glug Glug" Rubio's simple-minded, reactionary "voodoo economics" agenda at Wonkblog (worth an extended quote):
Marco Rubio's toughest political opponent may be math.
That's because his economic agenda has a simple arithmetic problem. He wants to balance the budget—in fact, he wants to amend the Constitution to make that mandatory—but at the same time he wants to cut taxes by $4 trillion or so, increase defense spending, and keep antipoverty spending where it is. That doesn't leave a lot of places to find savings. There probably aren't any in non-defense discretionary spending—things like roads and research—when it's already at a 40-year low. So you'd have to get them all by cutting Social Security and Medicare, and cutting them now. Rubio, though, only wants to "reform" entitlements for future seniors, not current ones. And that leaves you with big, fat deficits for a good, long while.

This is the same problem Republicans have had for 35 years now. That's how long they've been running on deficit-financed tax cuts and fiscal responsibility. So Rubio, who's trying to portray himself as a new kind of Republican, is seizing on the only thing that makes that combination work: saying tax cuts will pay for themselves. Specifically, he's said that the way to balance the budget is with "dynamic economic growth," which, of course, his tax cuts are supposed to provide. That's saying you can eat your cake and have it too, because eating it will make more of it appear. But anyone who remembers the big deficits that came after Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush's big tax cuts knows that's not the case. Indeed, former Bush adviser Greg Mankiw knew this himself, calling people who said otherwise little more than "charlatans and cranks."

But that hasn't stopped the usual supply-side suspects, like the right-leaning Tax Foundation, from claiming that Rubio's trillions of dollars of tax cuts would, after nine years of bigger deficits, actually make tax revenues go up after that by supercharging growth so much. If this sounds like wishful thinking masquerading as actual analysis, well, you're in touch with empirical reality. "This would not pass muster," economist Laurence Kotlikoff told the New York Times's Josh Barro, "as an undergraduate model at a top university."  (our emphasis)
Of course, Glug Glug isn't alone;  every one of his Republican presidential rivals (and the party in general) subscribes to this "wishful thinking masquerading as actual analysis."

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