It Works Both Ways
There’s a lot of blogging going on today about the economy, and here is another good piece, from Matthew Yglesias. He points to the conservative fear that once spending programs are put into place, they will never be dismantled. The liberal/progressive response to that, of course (or at least the one that comes immediately to mind) is, Why should they be? What’s so funny ’bout peace, love, and understanding? (Or jobs, schools, and public transportation).
But there is a flip side here. Conservatives aren’t the only ones who fear the permanence of so-called emergency measures:
… If we paid tons of people to dig ditches and then fill them in, I think it would be easy to convince people that we intended to stop doing that once unemployment fell. But conservatives recognize that, in general, liberals think the government should be spending more money on infrastructure projects and public services. So if we get to pass some spending increases at a time when the case for temporary stimulus is strong, who believes we’ll really give the spending up? And the same thing applies to conservatives and tax cuts. In general, it would be much easier to live up to the principle of balancing the budget over the course of the business cycle if there were political and social consensus around the level at which the budget should be balanced.
I mean, who seriously believes that if we got the deficit down to zero, Republicans would then agree it was a good time to start spending on infrastructure, public housing, subways, and education?