The Hilzoy Manifesto and a Small Addendum

The Hilzoy Manifesto and a Small Addendum
update: by cactus

Hilzoy has a way with words. And sometimes she nails complex ideas concisely, clearly, and incredibly to the point. I think this could be a manifesto of sorts for much of the center-left in this country:

Like a lot of conservatives, I am very worried about the deficits. Unlike some of them, I was also worried about it several years ago. Also unlike them, I am at present more worried about getting out of the recession, and I am willing to run deficits in the short run to accomplish that. But because I am worried about the deficit, I want these deficits to be well targeted and stimulative.

That means that I am much, much happier about spending money on investments that will pay dividends into the future, or on like deferred maintenance that we will need to do eventually, than on things we don’t need, like the war in Iraq. It also means that I think that any tax cuts we pass now ought to go to people who will actually spend all the money they get, rather than to people who will not: i.e., the rich.

Spending money on things we need tends to be a better stimulus than tax cuts. Tax cuts for the poor and middle class tend to be better stimuli than tax cuts for the rich.

But because conservatives can also write manifestos, I would add one a paragraph to make it clear this is more than opinion pulled out of the air:

We know this because we’ve learned from history. We’ve seen it all before. We’ve had administrations that cut taxes. We’ve had administrations that raised taxes. We’ve had administrations that targeted tax cuts on the poor, and we’ve had administrations that targeted tax cuts on the wealthy. We’ve had administrations that focused spending on things we’ve needed, and administrations that focused spending on things we didn’t. In fact, just about every administration we’ve had since National Accounts have been tracked beginning in the 1930s has engaged in all of the above to some degree or other. But there are degrees, and liberals and conservatives have different champions. And the historical has been clear and unambiguous to anyone who will do the math. Reagan, the conservative champion, and all other conservative presidents, turned in lower growth rates than liberals like FDR, LBJ, JFK, and Clinton.
by cactus (updated)