Why Can't More People Read Frederic Bastiat?
Another Complete and Total Washington Post Fail...

Barack Obama as Herbert Hoover

Mark Thoma listens to rhetoric that sounds disturbingly familiar:

The President’s Press Conference: The Disappointing Embrace of Job Killing Austerity - CBS MoneyWatch.com: I am disappointed that Obama has adopted austerity as a valid means of stimulating the economy, something he made absolutely clear during his remarks. There is no evidence that this works in a situation like our... there is plenty of evidence that the fall in demand from the deficit cuts is harmful, and that such cuts are likely to impede the recovery. The president has embraced the idea that uncertainty about the future, particularly worries about the deficit, is holding back the economic recovery even though this cannot be justified from the historical record. It’s hope over experience.

Uncertainly may be a problem, but it’s not uncertainty about the deficit. What’s holding the economy back is uncertainty about jobs, worries about the slowing recovery, and whether a second recession is coming. The policy the president wants, deficit reduction as large and as soon as possible, is likely to make the prospects for recovery even worse and increase uncertainty....

One thing the president said — the third disappointment — was particularly worrisome. He said we shouldn’t be concerned about “job killing tax increases” because there won’t be any tax increases until 2013 when the economy should be in better shape. Thus, he has adopted the Republican argument that we cannot raise taxes when the job picture is so bad. But how does that square with the phrase he uttered repeatedly, “if not now, when?” And more importantly, how does that square with the desire to cut spending? Why is he willing to implement spending cuts immediately but not tax increases?... If the “if not now, when” applies to spending cuts, why not taxes? If the argument that we can’t do “job killing tax increases” now, why is it okay to do job killing spending cuts? If the president is willing to go along with a delay in tax increases over worry about the economy, he ought to also be insist on delaying the spending cuts in the same way.

In the Q&A section he did say that we need job creation programs, an infrastructure program for example, and other steps to create jobs, but politics won’t allow this. What I find disappointing about this is that if the president approached this issue with the same tenacity as he has approached deficit reduction, then perhaps it wouldn’t look so impossible....

We need to set a plan now for tax increases and spending cuts, one that kicks in, say, when the unemployment rate falls below a fixed threshold.... One worry is the credibility of future promises. How will we know if the plan will actually be executed?... In the short-run, we need to boost the economy, or at least not make things worse through premature deficit reduction or interest rate increases by the Fed. In the longer-run, we need a plan to get the deficit under control.... I am very worried that large spending cuts now in return for a promise of future tax increases will harm the recovery and create even more misery for those trying to find jobs.... [W]ith the best plan ruled out... we are left with the lesser of two evils. Give in to the job and economy killing spending cuts the Republicans are demanding and the president appears to have embraced, or risk doing even more damage by failing to come to an agreement and defaulting on the debt...

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