Economics, Politics, and Sausage

If you are a young worker worried about all those deferred taxes being built up by the Bush Administration and the GOP led Congress, I guess the good news is that Congress has left town. Before they left, they passed a pork-filled energy bill as well as added all sorts of pork to the highway bill even if this bill fails to meet certain priorities. Passing CAFTA required all sorts of log-rolling but the best that David Altig can do to defend Bush’s departures from his free trade mantra is remind us that political decisions are like making sausage.

As I read David’s post, I had to ask: who’s the conservative here. As David tries to blame the legislative process, he fails to meet Doha. David does try to excuse the 2000 steel tariffs as the price breaking down resistance to the “fast-track” trade authority appealing to the usual excuse making from Lawrence Kudlow. But even Kudlow got the point that the 2002 steel tariffs were more the political calculus of Karl Rove than some trade-off in an incremental moving towards free trade. Let’s recall that the same political calculus was present during the Clinton White House discussions of a steel tariff proposal that could have given Al Gore the Presidency. Yet, President Clinton rejected the advice of the political hacks in favor of the advice from his economic advisors.

I’m surprised that we do not hear more conservatives asking our policymakers to “just say no”. No to diversions from free trade cloaked in the language of trade agreements. No to the pork in the highway bill. And no to a give away to the shareholders of oil companies (which happens to include me in a wee way) financed by deferred tax bills on the kids.

President Bush loves to say he “gets things done” without any apparent regard for what thing got done. Fred Barnes loves to talk about Bush being a “big government conservative”, which is the oxymoron of all time. Since David brought up Mr. Kudlow, let me suggest that Lawrence likely does not understand that rising debt = deferred tax increases. David does understand this simple point. Might I plea with him and other conservative economists in joining pro-growth liberals in telling this White House and Congress to cease with such pork paid for by future taxes on the kids?