Howard Dean v. Thomas Nugent – Pardon the Interruption

Since Thomas Nugent decides to debate Howard Dean only after Howard Dean has left the room – will you pardon me for cutting in?

Dean says: “The Republican record on managing the federal budget is dismal. Republicans have turned surplus into debt, hope into lost opportunity; they have become the party of borrow-and-spend.”

I say: The budget deficit increased for two reasons: to get us out of the Clinton recession of 2001 and to overcome the economic effects of the terrorist attacks on 9/11. As a result, the U.S. economy has recovered and has been growing at an above-average rate.

The “I” here is Mr. Nugent. The reality is that average annual real GDP growth has been only 2.6% over the past 5.5 years. Sure, we had a recession followed by a recovery. Recessions are typically followed by recoveries – with or without tax cuts.

Dean says: “The Joint Committee on Taxation [JCT] estimates that the total cost this year of the president’s tax cuts is $258 billion.”

I say: The notion that giving people back their hard-earned money through tax cuts is somehow a “cost” tells us something about the Deanocrat mentality. In their world, the government owns everything.

This is just the beginning of Mr. Nugent screaming “Spend more, tax more.” Does he not understand what President Bush’s fiscal record has been? Spend more, tax later.

Dean says: “We will restore honesty in government, starting with the pay-as-you-go discipline in Congress that served Mr. Clinton so well.”

I say: “PAYGO” is another way of saying, “No more tax cuts folks, unless of course you cut spending, even though the Bush tax cuts have produced more tax revenues than expected.” The Deanocrats don’t understand what Jack Kennedy understood so clearly: Tax-rate cuts stimulate economic activity; they do not retard economic growth.

There are two gigantic errors in this reply. First of all – PAYGO could mean cut spending before one cuts taxes. As far as Nugent’s free lunch supply-side spin here – does he still think an average growth rate of 2.6% is greater than the 3.5% average annual growth rate for the last half of the 20th century? Does he not understand that reducing national savings tends to reduce long-term growth?

Thank goodness Mr. Nugent had the dignity of letting Howard Dean leave the building before uttering such utter stupidity. I wouldn’t want another episode of Howard Dean screaming – so let it be me that screams out at the sheer nonsense that comes from the National Review!