Paul Krugman wrote a recent post, Jeb The Unready. And he started with some great sarcasm, “I can’t help noticing that Jeb Bush has now come out with the highly original proposal that we give rich people and corporations big tax cuts.” And then he marveled at the fact that Bush seems to think that he can jump-start his campaign by appealing to Stephen Moore and other big promoters of supply side economics. I think it is fair to say that people like Bush and Trump really do live in an alternate reality. They really don’t know how the other 99.9% live.
Let’s think about this for a while. One thing I hear from conservatives all the time is the Democrats have no new ideas whereas they are just bursting with them. Well, when they do burst with them, two things become clear. First, they are clever — but still often good — ideas. But they have to be clever, because the ideological base of the Republican Party forbids doing obvious things that will work. Second, the Republican Party as a whole will never back these ideas. So the “great” and “new” Republican ideas are constrained by ideology, but it still isn’t enough to make large numbers of Republicans support them.
As a result of this, Republicans stick with the tried and true. Reagan cut taxes, so let’s cut taxes! Reagan cut aid to the poor, so let’s cut aid to the poor! Reagan greatly increased corporate welfare, so let’s increase corporate welfare! And that’s all we are getting from Jeb Bush: more supply side economic. That is the idea that if we give more money to the rich, they will invest and create jobs. We’ve been doing it for forty years. It has been completely demolished as a policy idea. It doesn’t work. But still Bush is pushing it.
But here’s the thing: the American people don’t buy it. The Republicans have been great at destroying confidence in the government. But the good side of that is that people are especially skeptical of Republican economic ideas. That’s what happened in 2005 when the newly re-elected George W Bush decided what the people really wanted was for the government to privatize Social Security. Bush pushed hard on that and the people pushed back even harder. They are used to being conned — especially by Republicans.
This is not to say that Republicans won’t get elected and then implement supply side tax cuts. But it does mean that the people will not elect Republicans because they are promising economic growth through the magic of tax cuts for the rich and corporations. I have given up hoping that the electorate will ever pay enough attention to vote against the Republicans for this reason. Ted McLaughlin recently provided a good rundown of the fact that, Democratic Presidents Are Best For Jobs and the Economy.
Does Jeb Bush really think that hauling out the old supply side economics — which is being hocked by every candidate except for Trump — is going to jump-start his campaign? I doubt it. I suspect he is just signaling to the power elite that they shouldn’t give up on him and that they (and not he) need to find a way of getting rid of Trump. After all, their tax cuts depend upon it.