Bushonomics Vs. Ryanonomics

Marco Rubio Time Magazine CoverI’ve avoided writing about Marco Rubio. Mostly, it is just pena ajena—it embarrasses me to watch others’ public humiliation. But also: what is there to say? His State of the Union response was complete Republican boilerplate: pretend that the president is someone else and attack that guy.

Matt Yglesias has an interesting take on the speech. To him, it marked the return of Bushonomics. There is something to this, although I think he is giving the Republicans a bit too much credit. The theory goes something like this. The Republicans have been focused on the budget deficit for the last four years. If only we balance our budget (on the backs of the poor, of course) then it would be Morning in America! But now, Bobby Jindal and more explicitly Marco Rubio are signaling the return of the theory that we don’t need to worry about deficits because monster economic growth will save us.

In a separate article, Yglesias takes Ezra Klein to task for claiming that the Bush policies produced reasonable growth, Actually, Bush-Era Growth Was Pretty Lousy. He notes that Rubio is now promising 4% growth, just like Bush did. But just like Bush, Rubio’s policies are likely to result in something more like 1% growth:

But the actual George W. Bush administration gave us a weakish recovery from a mild recession, a couple years of growth, then a mild recession centered on the construction industry, and then a huge economic collapse. Bad times.

I agree with all this, but I don’t agree that Rubio is signaling any change. The Republican claim is always that they are going to create incredible economic growth via tax cuts for the wealthy and spending cuts for the poor. But these policies are more consecutive rather than concurrent. When a Democrat is in the White House, they call for spending cuts that hurt the poor. When a Republican is in the White House, they call for tax cuts that help the rich.

Rucio’s speech was typical vague Republican policy. It all comes down to “make the rich richer and the poor poorer.” But they can’t come out and say that. So they talk about out of control spending and legislative uncertainty. In fact, I think that Yglesias has been a little fooled by the Republicans. He seems to think that Medicare Part D was about something other than giving pharmaceutical companies huge unjustified government checks. Yes, the Republicans are at least as wedded to big government as the Democrats. It’s just that they want to hand out checks to big corporations rather than poor people.

Bushonomics and Ryanonomics are the same thing. It is just that Bushonomics is for when Republicans are in power and Ryanonomics are for when Democrats are in power. The only thing Marco Rubio is signaling is that he plans to run for president in 2016.

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

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