Yup. Fifty-six percent of Americans want another deep recession. Now! Our nation’s finances are a mess. And they want to see them become messier! And they want a few million hungry or homeless elderly. Not necessarily now. But soon.
The luxury of being a Centrist, at least one of this particular and common variety, is that you can spout generic truisms without ever actually tying them to specifics. Much less to basic economics principles. Milbank’s column is so replete with unsupported and in fact completely unexplained inferences–declaratory clauses and sentences each made in its own little vacuum but offered as though dependent upon one another–that Milbank’s heard somewhere, that I wondered as I read this thing whether he’d brought his MacBook Air to a Uline plant to watch the speech last night. I mean, how else to explain this?:
Oh, horrors. After all, deficit reduction is a big emergency. And a historically high debt level–irrespective of the specifics, such as how high that debt level is relative to GDP–will crash the economy. Just like the historically high debt levels did at the end of World War II.
“Washington’s version of Mardi Gras had begun early in the day, at the Capitol South Metro station, where members of a nonpartisan balanced-budget group, Bankrupting America, offered beads to passersby willing to ‘show us your cuts,’” Milbank writes. “By that standard, few necklaces would be distributed. Democrats and Republicans alike would sooner bare their private parts than come clean about what government programs they would cut.” True enough.
But then, this:
Even Paul Ryan doesn’t like to be specific about cuts that would slash domestic spending by 40 percent over decade? Even Paul Ryan? You don’t say!
And then, of course:
Of course. Which is why, pre-Bush-tax-cuts, and pre-Bush-unfunded-wars, we didn’t have a spending problem. Now we do, so let’s cut Social Security! Canada, Germany, Australia and Holland must also have spending problems. After all, they have extensive social safety-net programs, and high standards of living.
Milbank ends by saying, “In reality, we eventually need both spending cuts and tax increases — and lots of them. But sacrifice will have to wait. In Washington, they’re still partying like there’s no tomorrow.”
No, actually, the Democrats are partying like there is a tomorrow. There’s real, if unwitting, irony in the headline writer’s choice of a heading for Milbank’s column. Although–who knows?–maybe the headline writer actually is familiar with Keynesian economics.