The Los Angeles Times just gave us a reminder of the fact that when Bush proposed his tax cuts, there were 450 economists, including 10 Nobel laureates in Economics, who signed a public letter (PDF) warning that the cuts were dangerous:
Passing these tax cuts will worsen the long-term budget outlook, adding to the nation’s projected chronic deficits. This fiscal deterioration will reduce the capacity of the government to finance Social Security and Medicare benefits as well as investments in schools, health, infrastructure, and basic research. Moreover, the proposed tax cuts will generate further inequalities in after-tax income.
Well, a decade later later, and it has come to pass exactly as they warned. Well, not exactly—conservatives made it much worse. Bush and his cronies twiddled their thumbs while 9/11 unfolded, then bungled the war in Afghanistan, which should have taken at most a few years, mostly screwing up by starting the even more expensive and completely unnecessary war in Iraq, and then deregulated the economic sector so badly that we nearly imploded. Not that we didn’t know this from the beginning.
Conservatives made this debacle happen, and now they want to use it to further their agenda of dismantling the social safety net.
Of course, conservatives will deny all of this. They’ll make the claim that Clinton wrecked the economy, that 9/11 was unexpected and unavoidable and we had to spend more on security and wars, that the 2007 subprime mortgage crisis was caused by black people who were too greedy and the Democrats who forced banks to loan money to them, and that the debt all magically appeared on January 20, 2009.
The LA Times suggests:
Here’s another idea: Let’s join hands and walk to the bottom of the cliff together. It’s not very far down. The deficit and national debt will be reduced; Social Security, Medicaid and, for the most part, Medicare will go on unharmed; America will go back to tax rates that worked better than the cuts we’ve been living with; and Congress will actually be forced to do something for a change: Republicans and Democrats will have to work together to repair those programs damaged by sequestration, rather than filibuster or chant talking points to make their way around the hard decisions.
Perhaps America is on the brink of a fiscal opportunity.