Notes on the Atrocities
Like a 100-watt radio station, broadcasting to the dozens...

Sunday, September 14, 2003  

I guess since we're talkin' Krugman, we might as well keep talkin' Krugman. As Tom noted in his comments, there's a long article in today's Times Magazine by Krugman on taxes. And, unlike the obscure debate Tom and I were having, this article seems to have attracted a lot of the blogosphere's notice; based on a quick run on Technorati, somewhere in the neighborhood of fifty bloggers have already weighed in--and it's the weekend when no one's blogging.

The upshot of the article is familiar to those of us who read Krugman on a regular basis: Republicans are gutting government, either under the aegis of the supply-side argument or simply because they hate giving money to the non-rich, but promoting the slashes as beneficial to a grossly overtaxed middle class. There are already rebuttals (Tom, again, for one), but some of Krugman's main points are pretty hard to knock.

Based on all that's been written about Krugman, I won't spill much more ink on the argument--I guess you either think he's right or a shrill nut, irrespective of the numbers (which Tom, again, disputes). Just for the record, let me point out that I think Krugman is crossing the i's and dotting the t's in this article. But lest you get caught in the details, his main point is this: Republicans are giving "false impressions" (read: lying) about their agenda. Because, either: 1) Republicans actually believe tax cuts for the wealthy are fine, even if they cause a crisis and endanger services to the middle-class and poor, because they think this will stimulate the economy or 2) they know tax cuts are a giveaway. In neither case are they forthcoming, because they continue to give "false impressions" about who's paying taxes and who's receiving services, and no one's heard anything about the cost.

I will dig Krugman on one point. He argues that Reagan tax cuts didn't really boost the economy in the 80s, but when Clinton raised taxes on the wealthy in the 90s, it did boost the economy. I'm no economist, but this seems suspicious. His argument about Reagan is that all the gains came in the early years after the tax cut; these can be attributed to a market adjustment. But didn't Clinton get the same boost in the nineties after the Bush recession? Wasn't all of the energy of the 90s fueled by a technology boom, not the federal government's actions? And if you average out the boom-bust economies, don't Clinton's years look pretty mediocre? (All the Enron-itis and market overvaluation happened on his watch, so it's fair to call the economic collapse part of the same cycle.)

But, again, I'm no economist--I just play one on Blogspot.

posted by Jeff | 5:13 PM |
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