Thursday, February 18, 2016

Some Progressive Economic Fantasies

One of Sanders' campaign spokesmen was out this week trying to call attention to a study, by Amherst economist Gerald Friedman, of the economic impact of Sanders' proposals. The spokesman, campaign policy director Warren Gunnels, said:
It’s gotten a little bit of attention, but not nearly as much as we would like. Senator Sanders has been fighting establishment politics, the establishment economics and the establishment media. And this is the last thing they want to take a look at.

It shows that over a 10-year period, we would create 26 million new jobs, the poverty rate would plummet, that incomes would go up dramatically, and we would have strong economic growth. ... It’s a very bold plan, and we want to get this out there.
So while Sanders has not officially endorsed this study, people in his campaign have been pushing it. And it is completely crazy. Kevin Drum, in a post titled The Sanders Campaign has Crossed into Neverland:
WTF? Per-capita GDP will grow 4.5 percent? And not just in a single year: Friedman is projecting that it will grow by an average of 4.5 percent every year for the next decade. Productivity growth will double compared to CBO projections—and in case you're curious, there has never been a 10-year period since World War II in which productivity grew 3.18 percent. Not one. And miraculously, the employment-population ratio, which has been declining since 2000 and has never reached 65 percent ever in history, will rise to 65 percent in a mere ten years.
Sanders, or at least some of his people, have fallen into the same trap as Paul Ryan and the rest of the magic budget Republicans. They want things that will cost a lot, and they know that people will shy away from the cost. So they lie about the cost, or insist that their proposals will pay for themselves by generating economic growth. But, you know, there is no free lunch. Not in the Federal budget any more than anywhere else. We could have single-payer health care and free college, or we could cut income taxes in half. But these dreams come with very large price tags, and there is simply no way to avoid paying them. Massive tax cuts mean either massive deficits or massive cuts in the big parts of the budget, that is, defense, Social Security, and Medicare. Democratic Socialism means much higher taxes, more bureaucracy, and major disruptions in the fields of health care and education, plus a huge, ugly, highly divisive political fight before any of it can happen.

If that's what people want, fine. But people should know what it is that they are choosing.

If I had a philosophy of life, it might boil down to this: choices have to be made. You can't have everything. What's more, you don't need everything. But you do need to choose. And that makes me very prickly about political schemes that boil down to "we can have it all!"

1 comment:

Shadow said...

Interesting the parallels between Trump and Sanders and their followers.