David R. Henderson  

Krugman on Bernie Sanders's Fiscal Responsibility

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Paul Krugman writes that Marco Rubio and other Republican candidates are proposing wildly unaffordable tax cuts whereas the two main Democratic candidates are not. And it is true that unless the Republican candidates get serious about substantially cutting the size and growth of government, the kind of tax cuts many of them envision will lead to even larger deficits than are now projected.

But Paul doesn't settle for simply criticizing Republicans. He wants to claim that Hillary Clinton and even Bernie Sanders are not proposing anything wildly unaffordable. He writes:

Hillary Clinton isn't proposing wildly unaffordable stuff; Bernie Sanders hasn't offered details about how he'd pay for single-payer, but you can be sure that he would propose something.

"You can be sure he would propose something?" Really. Is that all you've got, Paul. So can you also be sure that Rubio and others would propose spending cuts even if they haven't got around to it yet?


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CATEGORIES: Fiscal Policy , Taxation




COMMENTS (9 to date)
Anonymous writes:

What does it mean to cut the size and growth of government? Surely you are either cutting the growth by a certain amount, up to cutting it by 100%, at which point the government stays the same size; or you are cutting the growth by more than that, at which point you are cutting the size.

It seems to me that one of these things is just a more extreme version of the other, so talking about doing both seems a kind of awkward turn of phrase.

(Yes, this is a very pedantic nitpick.)

David R. Henderson writes:

@Anonymous,
You’re right: your point is pedantic.
But here’s what I mean: there are two ways to cut government--cut its rate of growth and cut its size. I want both. So, for example--and now I’m imagining myself as someone trying to work within existing political constraints--I want a 10% across the board cut in discretionary spending and a cut in the rate of growth of Social Security and Medicare spending. See?

Anonymous writes:

@David

I see - so cuts in size in some areas, cuts in growth rate in others. That makes sense.

Sorry to have wasted a little of your time with a somewhat inane comment!

Nick Bradley writes:

These are apples and oranges; single payer costs would be dependent upon the cost projections done, and premiums would presumably be a payroll tax, like it is in most single payer systems.

Republicans are assuming fantastical dynamic growth effects that are quite simply impossible with current capital costs, consumption propensities for rich people that are getting tax cuts, and so on.

Final note is that single payer was never scored by the cbo in 2009 -- but it should have been.

Andrew_FL writes:

The Democrats have most of their wildly unaffordable stuff on autopilot by now so there's no need to propose it.

Having no plan to do something about the growth rate of entitlement spending on existing programs should be considered "proposing something wildly unaffordable" but since it's not technically "proposing" something at all, it doesn't count. I should, but it doesn't.

Of course, to be fair, this criticism applies to most Republicans as well, but I would defend applying it more forcefully to Democrats because A) it was their party which created most of these programs and B) they're quite proud of that fact.

Of course, it's quite easy to propose things and have those proposals be "affordable" when you're always willing to confiscate more of other people's property to pay for them.

David R. Henderson writes:

@Andrew_FL,
Good point. Moreover, one of the bright spots in the debate the other night was Rand Paul, Chris Christie, and, I think, one other laying out to Mike Huckabee that the Social Security cupboard is bare. I wish Rand Paul hadn’t said that it was not Democrats' and Republicans’ faults--it really was--but instead was grandparents’ faults, but at least he laid out what a sham the trust fund is. And Rand Paul went on to advocate raising the age at which one qualifies for SS and implementing means testing.

David Johnston writes:

Krugman begins his column by claiming that we do need to worry about priorities, so I don't see how he can wave away Bernie Sanders' unfunded promises by saying he will surely propose "something". That is exactly the treatment he thinks is unacceptable for a columnist to give to Republicans.

David Johnston writes:

I apologize, policies, not priorities.

khodge writes:

I know that it is a blog and, as such, precision is not demanded but...the person who defines the language controls the dialog. One side is proposing "wildly unaffordable" while the other side merely has to tweak some minor details.

No better example is available than his treatment of Pres. Bush: He clearly was "a bad, dangerous guy." We don't need even a context or any specifics because we have Prof. Krugman's language, hence, Bush was wrong.

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