Arnold Kling  

Bush on Trial

Who is Rich?... Demographics...

Jeff Frankel speaks for the prosecution.

they will do anything for a few votes, even if their behavior is against the national economic and security interests and blatantly inconsistent with things they claim to stand for: small government, free trade, macroeconomic discipline, good neoclassical economics, and so forth. And they will favor political expediency even if it creates big trouble for themselves a few months or a few years down the road—hence the charge of incompetence.

Glenn Hubbard speaks for the defense.

President Bush has submitted a detailed budget blueprint to the Congress with a plan to reduce the budget deficit relative to GDP by half over the next five years. The President has also spoken often of the need to implement reforms of Social Security and Medicare that would improve the sustainability of those programs. By contrast, as of this writing, the President’s challenger has racked up an additional budget gap of at least $1 trillion—the excess of spending proposals over promised tax increases—over ten years, and he has offered no clues as to his thinking on the outlook for Social Security and Medicare.

For Discussion. What will be different about the economic policies and outcomes of a Kerry first term compared with a Bush second term?

Comments and Sharing

CATEGORIES: Fiscal Policy

COMMENTS (6 to date)
David Thomson writes:

John Kerry will owe the unions and other far left wing groups for his victory. They will be knocking on his door immediately after the inauguration ceremony. What about the influence of Robert Rubin and other more pragmatic individuals? They will have to compete against the big spending liberals---and will often lose.

Get this straight right here and now: the Bill Clinton era is over! No Democrat presidential candidate can run today on a free trade and balance the budget agenda. The last chance for the Democrat middle of the roaders was Senator Joseph Lieberman. He has been relegated to second class status. The left of center Democrats are now in firm control.

Bernard Yomtov writes:

"No Democrat presidential candidate can run today on a free trade and balance the budget agenda."

Are you seriously claiming that Republicans run on this agenda? At least as far as a balanced budget goes it's clear that for the past quarter century it is the Democrats who have been the party of fiscal responsibility, while Republicans have engaged in their supply-side fantasies.

Trade is probably a standoff, though Clinton's record is better than Bush's, and there's no reason to think Kerry wouldn't be better also.

Boonton writes:

Once Kerry obtains the White House, what he 'owes' the Unions will be irrelevant. What will count is what will get him reelected and it's unlikely he has the heart to pull off a protectionist regime. Nor is it likely that unions will be able to have enough swing to assure his reelection. Like the religious right to Bush, Kerry will feel obligated to side with unions on some of the less important issues (such as proposals to trim overtime for many workers) but is unlikely to be the liberal boogyman republicans want to paint.

One thing that is likely is spending restraint since Kerry would like to be able to say he reversed Bush's deficits and the Republican Congress would like to say they stopped liberal spending programs. Unfortunately with the current situation the opposite is the case. Bush will not want to take on Congress to a serious degree because that would be challenging his own party. The comprimise that is happening now is biased towards more spending. If Bush wants program A and Congress program B, the result is A & B get passed. It's more likely under a Kerry admin. that neither will.

David Thomson writes:

There is one thing which must not be forgotten regarding the John Kerry campaign: Ralph Nader is severely damaging him. It now appears that the latter gentleman will get around 6% of the total vote. This will compel Kerry to placate the liberals---by embracing many of their economic programs. Bill Clinton did not have this problem.

Lawrance George Lux writes:

Why do I echos of the Past in the above commentaries? Here are the points I see any President having to face in the next term:
1)How do We get out of Iraq and Afghanistan?
2) How do We cut the Deficit to zero, not as half-trillion per year in a decade?
3) How do We get a Trade Balance surplus? It will be to expand Exports, or cost Consumers for buying foreign products, no matter what solution chosen.
4) Can any of the above questions be left unanswered before 2010, without the United States losing all political, and economic, viability in the World? lgl

festa writes:

The real issue here is being ignored. To be honest, whether Kerry or Bush will reduce the budget deficit by more is irrelevant. The real issue is who will do more to sustain the viability of our two biggest programs: social security and medicare. So far as I know, John Kerry has offered no plans to reform these systems and does not plan on doing anything remotely worth looking at. This is one area where the democrats DO have too look at their base.

Bush on the other hand, as Hubbard notes, has presented reforms that would help to sustain the long term viability of these programs. We may quibble on whether or not they are sufficient/contain flaws, but he is at least offering proposals. Part of the dialogue that should be going on (but is not) is what to do about this.

My democratic county chairmen said he would support any politician, republican or democrat, who was for medicare reform. He has now been blackballed by the democratic party and is not allowed to be a delegate to the convention.

I wonder if Kerry will have the guts to go up against these people!


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