Democratic Economic Policy Is Better

Carly FiorinaOn Monday, Paul Krugman wrote, Partisan Growth Gaps. It seems that Carly Fiorina claimed that Hillary Clinton flunked economics. Clinton claimed that the economy does better under Democratic presidents than they do under Republicans. Except, as we know from the great Mark Thoma, not only is this true, there are reasons for it. Krugman is much more cautious. But there is no doubt that the economy does do better. The only question is why.

The standard answer that conservatives give is to credit Republicans regardless. Clinton shouldn’t get credit for the economic boom during his presidency. No, it was Ronald Reagan’s policies from 15 years earlier. Ronald Reagan is for conservatives what God is for Christians. If something went wrong under Reagan, it wasn’t his fault. If something went right after he was out of office, then it was thanks to him. Whatever. Conservatives are by and large crazy.

But I’m not surprised that Carly Fiorina would think that she has things to teach Hillary Clinton. For one thing, business people always think they understand macro-economics, even though there is literally no crossover.

Thoma’s main argument was that Democrats do better with the economy because they care about helping it. Republicans just want to do certain things for ideological reasons. They are going to do them whether it helps or hurts the economy. If the economy is good, they want to cut taxes on the rich. If the economy is bad, they want to cut taxes on the rich. In the end, Republicans always end up costing more money. If the electorate were rational, the Republicans would never win a national election. But you know how it goes.

I want to propose something slightly different. Republicans are committed to policies that increase income inequality. Now when inequality was fairly low, that wasn’t necessarily the worst thing in the world. It wasn’t great under Reagan, but it wasn’t terrible. But since that time, more and more money has gone to the rich and it has just sat around. So policies that reduce income inequality will generally be good for economic growth. Poor people spend the money they get. Rich people go looking for places to invest. But given that there aren’t enough poor people buying stuff, that money looking to invest finds few opportunities.

So I think it is as simple as that: Republicans move money to where it does the least amount of good. Imagine that you have two people at a kitchen table and you are serving food. But you only give food to one of the people. Eventually, she is full. The other diner is not, because he hasn’t gotten any food. But the server just keeps giving food to her, even though she isn’t eating. That’s Republican economic policy. Democrats make sure that the starving guy gets at least some food.

But I’m not surprised that Carly Fiorina would think that she has things to teach Hillary Clinton. For one thing, business people always think they understand macro-economics, even though there is literally no crossover. Running a business is nothing at all like running a country. Add to that that Fiorina was terrible at running her own company. And then add her conservative ideology that claims that the best thing is always to give millionaires like herself ever more money, and you have a recipe for failure. Fiorina is the kind of person who could destroy our economy over four years and walk away still thinking she had done a great job. Just like she did at HP.

GOP Loses Control of Presidential Candidates

RNCMartin Longman wrote a very interesting article, The Racist and Spineless GOP. In the Republicans’ effort to never be asked a difficult question, they’ve canceled their upcoming debates. Ted Cruz wants “real journalists” like Rush Limbaugh to moderate the debates. You can see how the establishment Republicans would hate this. There is already a big tendency for these clowns to push far to the right. What is a series of debates pandering to Sean Hannity going to do?

But one of the debates that the Republicans have canceled is with Telemundo. Not just that. It was the first debate that they canceled. It’s so impressive. After the 2012 defeat, the Republican Party was united in thinking that it had to reach out to Latino voters. What’s more, since that time, the conventional wisdom is that the only way to win the White House now is to win the Latino vote. But the Republicans are turning in on themselves. They want to talk only to themselves — only to other old white people. It’s quite amazing to think about, because clearly the Republicans already have the angry old white person vote wrapped up.

Marco Rubio, for one, has a lot of skeletons in his closet. But the Republicans seem to think that they can just ignore this and that the Democrats will not mention it in the general election.

It’s kind of like all they care about is winning the Fox News primary. It’s parochial. And there really is nothing wrong with that. You are, after all, reading a liberal blog. And you are probably a liberal. There is a lot to be said for creating safe spaces where like minded people can work out what they think. But it is strange to see this happening with professional politicians who we would think would have that sorted out. And it is downright bizarre coming from people who are running for president. That is about as grand a scale that you can run on.

It seems that they aren’t interested in winning the general election. Marco Rubio, for one, has a lot of skeletons in his closet. But the Republicans seem to think that they can just ignore this and that the Democrats will not mention it in the general election. I was writing about this last month, Democrats Would Get Rid of Hillary Clinton If They Thought There Was a Scandal. But that is something I wonder about. Republicans seem to think that the Democrats are protecting Hillary Clinton. Could it be that they are just that clueless? That they don’t understand how elections work and that getting the nomination means nothing if you nominate a candidate who will be destroyed in the general election?

Of course, what’s happening is that the Republican Party has lost control of the nominating contest. Certainly someone like Reince Priebus understands how this is supposed to work. But the candidates don’t seem to understand it. And they are the result of the steady dumbing down of the Republican base. And that is the result of the very Republican elites who Priebus represents as they’ve made decisions over the years to just keep the party going one more election cycle. Now they have voters who want the impossible. And candidates who don’t understand how to win a national election. I’m glad to see it. Maybe the Republican Party can’t even win the White House in a year where the economic fundamentals are in their favor. The Republicans really are self-destructing before our eyes.

Morning Music: Caisson Song

Robert WeedeThe “Caisson Song” was supposedly written in 1908, although the lyrics we all know come from 1918. That makes sense given that I always thought the song was from World War I. The truth is that I’ve never known what a caisson is. I just looked it up. It’s “a chest or wagon for holding or conveying ammunition.”

The song itself reminds me of myself playing with army men when I was a little boy. It’s such a sanitized vision of war. And it makes me wonder about having children sing it in school. It comes back to that usual notion that kids must be protected from sex, but war is just fine, even though sex is part of all lives and war is not.

I wish I could find some great version of the song. This is about as good as it gets. It is by Robert Weede created as part of the war effort during World War II.

Anniversary Post: Guy Fawkes

Guy FawkesOn this day in 1605, Guy Fawkes was arrested for his part in the Gunpowder Plot. What I don’t really understand about him is how he became a symbol of freedom. I mean, he wanted to kill the protestant king and replace him with a Catholic. I guess time heals all wounds. Or something.

James VI managed to survive the plot, but his son, King Charles I, was not so lucky. The “people” took control of the government and executed him. That didn’t go too well and eventually Charles II was put back on the throne. Maybe the timing was wrong. Or maybe the country was wrong. Regardless, Oliver Cromwell is a much better symbol of freedom.

Not that any of them are. They’re all a bunch of people who were looking for power. The only people who do anything for the people are the people.