David Leonhard and Bruce Bartlett on Fiscal Policy

David Leonhardt:>Where Were the Medicare Tea Parties?/a>: Bruce Bartlett, the economist and former Reagan administration official, has been pounding the drum to get people to be more realistic about taxes. His case, in short, is that taxes will have to go up to cover the cost of government that Americans want. Referring to this week’s tea parties — the protests against taxes — Mr. Bartlett writes on Forbes.com:>>[P]protesters… assume that the deficit has increased solely as a result of Barack Obama’s policies. But… the Congressional Budget Office was projecting a deficit of more than $1 trillion this year back in January, before any of Obama’s policies had been enacted, and a cumulative deficit of $4.3 trillion through 2019…. [P]rojected deficits have gotten larger since January. But much of this resulted from deteriorating economic conditions…. [M]any of those that loudly denounced the Obama stimulus package for its impact on the deficit would have cheered the McCain stimulus package even though it would have increased the deficit by about the same amount.>>Proof of this proposition is that there were no tea parties during the years when George W. Bush was turning the surpluses of the Clinton years into massive deficits. Indeed, if concerns about deficits are the primary motivation for this week’s tax protests, then these same people should have been holding demonstrations of support for Bill Clinton in 2000 when the federal government ran a budget surplus of 2.4% of the gross domestic product–equivalent to a surplus of $336 billion this year…. [T]he greatest addition to national indebtedness occurred in 2003 when Bush rammed through the Republican Congress a massive expansion of Medicare to provide drug benefits even though the system was already broke…

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