Thursday, August 27, 2009

Conservatives Heart Demand-Side Economics

When the issue of tax cuts arises, one of the favorite conservative attacks is to insist that it's hypocritical of us to complain about tax cuts, while also accepting them if they pass. They argue that, if we think the government needs more money, we should be happy to go ahead and pay it.

But of course, that's bulldooky because our point is how high the deficit gets when large quantities of tax revenues are lost; so the small amount that we could pay as individuals would make no difference. Even a richie rich like Warren Buffet's tax cut isn't enough individually to make any dent in the deficit. Hell, he could donate his entire fortune to the government and it would barely make a blip on the radar. But all the same, conservatives LOVE to make that point and imagine it to be one of the cleverest things they've ever been told to repeat.

And so now Carpetbagger's got a post where he points out the Gollum-like nature of conservatives in regards to Obama's stimulus: Conservatives HATE the stimulus; Conservatives LOVE the stimulus. And so conservatives are now commenting there about how this is no different from how liberals oppose tax cuts, yet still accept them as individuals. Similarly, conservative politicians opposed the stimulus, yet will still accept them for their constituents.

Here's a comment from Bruce Bartlett:
(no clue if it's that Bruce Bartlett)
This is a non-story. All politicians do the same thing. For example, Democrats who voted against the Bush tax cuts still touted their benefits to their constituents. Nor do I remember hearing of any prominent liberals sending their tax cut back to the Treasury.
Except, that's not how it works. Because liberal opposition to tax cuts isn't that they're unpopular or don't help the economy, but that they're too expensive because they drain off too much tax revenue. And even then, most liberal politicians are willing to give tax cuts to the poor and middle class, under the idea that they need the assistance. It's tax cuts to the rich that we oppose. And I've never heard a liberal tout the benefits of tax cuts to the rich.

But the opposition to the stimulus wasn't just that it was expensive and would increase the deficit, but rather, that it couldn't do any good. The government can't fix the economy or create real jobs, we were assured. And yet, here they are trying to grab stimulus funds because they know it will help their districts. This isn't hypocrisy; it's a complete refutation of their prior statements. And while it's possible that they had a change of heart recently, it's more likely that they were outright lying when they made these absurd claims.

One commenter there tried to defend conservatives, saying that it would be "stupid" for them to reject the funds now that they've been approved. And while I agree that this IS stupid, that's exactly what many of them did anyway; including the governors of South Carolina, Louisiana, and Alaska. And the base lionized them for it. Apparently, it's now unfair to remember what they actually said.

(On a side note, do you think Jindal's a little nervous about that little wingnut group he was in, or do you think he's happy to be the last crazy governor standing?)

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