hard heads soft hearts

a scratch pad for half-formed thoughts by a liberal political junkie who's nobody special. ''Hard Heads, Soft Hearts'' is the title of a book by Princeton economist Alan Blinder, and tends to be a favorite motto of neoliberals, especially liberal economists.

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Friday, June 14, 2002
So far you seem to have criticized the Bushies for
selling a 2.5 trillion tax cut as if its 1.6 (to fool
moderates). I wonder if you're a bit behind the curve,
and what they're actually doing is selling a 1.6
trillion as if its 2.5 (to fool the right wing).

i.e. promise cutting the top rate to 33, eliminating
the "death" tax, etc. all sorts of goodies that would
add up to 2.5 if they were passed. But what actually
passes is a 1.6 trillion tax cut with honest numbers.
This means that the actual tax cut people get will be
considerably smaller than they have been promised, but
not many people really know what was in the Bush
proposal anyway, and the pro tax cut people who might
have been offended by this bait and switch will never
call their hero on it.

He promised a (dishonest) 1.6 trillion tax cut, he
passed an (honest) 1.6 trillion cut, ergo, he
delivered on his promise. Of course the main way he
holds down the cost is an even slower phase in, which
will wreak fiscal havoc down the road, but that will
be President George P. Bush's problem.

at bottom, my point is that Larry Lindsey/Karl Rove
are not fools, and realize that the presence of
near-term deficits/trust-fund raids/severe program
cuts will be political suicide. I had thought they
would run into political problems when they had to
present their budget, and was frankly expecting a
fire-cracker column from you explaining all the budget
cuts necessary to make the numbers add up, but their
budget seems to have left no low-hanging fruit for
their opponents to attack.

What this means, I think, is that Lindsey/Rove will
not allow Bushonomics to collapse, ala Reaganomics, of
its own weight (or lies about said weight), and that
the ideologically neutral attacks you have been making
of dishonest projections and sheer fiscal madness will
no longer be available. I believe that the Bushies are
smart enough(or perhaps cynical enough, unlike the
Reaganite true believers) such that they must be
attacked on ideological arguments of different
priorities, and not pragmatic arguments of arithmetic
and eating the nation's seed corn.