A Decent Critique of the Edwards Fiscal Policy – Almost

James Pethokoukis starts off with a decent summary of the fiscal proposals from John Edwards:

You’ve got to give John Edwards some credit. Unlike most of the presidential candidates of both parties, he’s actually proposing some very specific economic policies–and even putting some price tags on them. (Hint to GOP candidates debating tonight in South Carolina.) Universal healthcare? Somewhere between $90 billion and $120 billion a year. Then there’s his $20 billion spending program to end poverty. And his $13 billion spending program to revamp American energy use. So where’s all the money coming from to pay for all this wonderful stuff?

Edwards has had the courage to say he’d raise taxes but Pethokoukis suggests that the recommended tax increases might not be enough to pay for this extra spending. Even though I’m support Mr. Edwards, I should say – good point. But then Pethokoukis had to write this:

Given the pace of tax revenues, Uncle Sam might have a balanced budget sooner rather than later. Economist Michael Darda notes that if tax revenue growth continues to outpace spending growth by 6.1 percentage points, the budget will move into surplus by April 2008. It will be hard for fiscal hawks to argue the budget is in crisis when it’s in the black. Score a point for Edwards.

No – score this a case where Pethokoukis got suckered by Darda. If taxes continue to grow by 6.1%? Please. Besides, they are talking about the unified deficit which has improved mainly because the Trust Fund surpluses are growing. The General Fund deficit is still quite large. OK, the GOP candidates will feed the public these free lunch lies based on this kind of garbage accounting – but this deficit hawk Democrat wants candidates to be more honest. Shame on Michael Darda and shame on James Pethokoukis.