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Hullabaloo


Wednesday, June 08, 2011

 
So simple even Republicans can do it

by digby

As I pondered for the gazillionth time why it's so hard for liberal politicians to make basic Keynesianism more intuitive than the right wing trope that an economic slump means that the government needs to tighten its belt, I came across this post by Atrios:

I think one of the early successes of the Right, and one not ever really beaten back by the Left, was to convince people that inflation is The Worst Thing Ever. For most of us, especially those of us with fixed nominal interest debt, (relatively modest) inflation is probably a good thing. In practice inflation doesn't necessarily mean pure inflation, with price level and wages rising simultaneously, so it makes sense that over relatively short periods of time people see the price of milk go up and feel the pinch, but probably an untold story of the inflationary period of the 70s was that a hell of a lot of people came out the other side quite well. Suddenly their houses were worth quite a bit, and their mortgage payments were trivial.

And, yes, absurdly anti-inflation policies are there for the banksters, not the rest of us.


Ironically, they used this trope to push the original tax revolt in California, Prop 13. It was a huge scare campaign based on the image of elderly people on fixed incomes being pushed out of their homes because of rising property taxes (based on inflation.) Working people who were getting raises and whose property values were growing smartly were doing just fine. Unfortunately, it set in motion events that ended up destroying the educational system and virtually every other aspect of civic life in the state so it was a great success by wingnut standards.

This was one of many right wing rhetorical victories over common sense. But I have to say that the one that never fails to amaze me is the fatuous supply side fantasy that says the less you tax the more revenue you get! Talk about magical thinking. And yet they continue to drag it out and you will see it even more during the campaign when the Republicans (and sadly, some Democrats) will insist that the deficit will be fixed if only we cut taxes.

If they can do that is it really ridiculous to believe that professional liberal politicians should be able to figure out a way to explain to people that the government needs to spend money in a recession to make up for the lack of spending by the private sector? So far, they've punted and simply adopted the wingnut talking points, but considering how successful the conservatives have been at convincing people that up is down and black is white, you can't say it isn't possible. Of course, that's assuming they want to.


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