Friday, August 17, 2012

Stockman's Broadside

Pundits were buzzing this week, after David Stockman released an op-ed in The New York Times. Ronald Reagan's former budget director had little good to say about the party he once represented as a congressman and the plan the party's candidate for vice president is selling:

Thirty years of Republican apostasy — a once grand party’s embrace of the welfare state, the warfare state and the Wall Street-coddling bailout state — have crippled the engines of capitalism and buried us in debt. Mr. Ryan’s sonorous campaign rhetoric about shrinking Big Government and giving tax cuts to “job creators” (read: the top 2 percent) will do nothing to reverse the nation’s economic decline and arrest its fiscal collapse. 

This was not the first time Stockman disagreed publicly with his party's economic policies. Back in 1981, in an article in The Atlantic, William Greider quoted Stockman as saying that Ronald Reagan's initial tax cut 

was always a Trojan horse to bring down the top rate.... It's kind of hard to sell 'trickle down.' So the supply-side formula was the only way to get a tax policy that was really 'trickle down.' Supply-side is 'trickle-down' theory."

Stockman also told Greider that, "None of us really understands what's going on with all these numbers."

Paul Ryan once worked for Jack Kemp, the Apostle of Supply Side Economics. Stockman still believes that Kemp's economics were, and are, profoundly misguided:

These doctrines now saddle our bankrupt nation with a roughly $775 billion “defense” budget in a world where we have no advanced industrial state enemies and have been fired (appropriately) as the global

Ryan's so called Path to Prosperity, Stockman wrote,

boils down to a fetish for cutting the top marginal income-tax rate for “job creators” — i.e. the superwealthy — to 25 percent and paying for it with an as-yet-undisclosed plan to broaden the tax base. Of the $1 trillion in so-called tax expenditures that the plan would attack, the vast majority would come from slashing popular tax breaks for employer-provided health insurance, mortgage interest, 401(k) accounts, state and local taxes, charitable giving and the like, not to mention low rates on capital gains and dividends. The crony capitalists of K Street already own more than enough Republican votes to stop that train before it leaves the station. 

Needless to say, Mr.Stockman is no longer popular among Republicans. But he still has the courage to speak truth to power.

This entry is cross posted at The Moderate Voice.


Lorne said...

Stockman's comments, Owen, help illuminate how given to delusional 'magical thinking' the American right wing really is; unfortunately, of course, we have our own version of that with Harper, Inc.

Owen Gray said...

Stockman's argument, Lorne, was (and still is) that the numbers don't add up.

It's amazing how Americans and the Harperites ignore this simple fact:

When you arrange huge tax cuts -- even if you cut some spending -- the budget will be perpetually out of balance -- way out of balance.