Monday, January 17, 2011

An Afterthought on Political Feasibility

I just made a call for data, because I wanted to test some claims made by Ron Garret about tax levels.  I had a thought about the conversation, that didn't quite fit in with the call for data.

Ron also claimed that raising taxes was politically feasible, while cutting spending wasn't.  He also claimed that, if we were to raise our taxes, we'd be showing the world that we're determined to fund our government spending, and that will help the economy.

I'm not sure that Ron is right about this, though:  first of all, I don't think it's as "politically viable" to raise taxes as he thinks it is; indeed Barak Obama seems to think it's not politically viable (although some have questioned his motives for continuing Bush's tax levels).  It also doesn't matter whether cutting spending will be viable or not:  if we don't cut spending, and if we don't do it deeply, we're in for a world of hurt!  Raising taxes isn't going to fix our spending problem.  Heck, lowering taxes isn't going to fix things--even if, as we have historically seen, lowering taxes temporarily raises tax revenue.

To me, it's a little disingenuous to call for raising taxes because it's politically viable, but not call for cuts to spending, because it would be "political suicide":  if the first won't even put a dent in solving our problems, why bother calling for it?  Why not call for a reduction in spending, even you have to add the cynical parenthetical of "but everyone is too dependent on their pet subsidiaries, so this is practically impossible"?

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