Saturday, September 3, 2011

Misdirection and Ignorance from the Political Right

Here is a bit from a post by Mark Thoma in his Economist's View blow using some material sent to him by Gary Burtless:
A couple of hours after talking to an ABC correspondent about the woeful job numbers and what might be done to improve them, I was in the Bloomberg TV studios debating a guy from Heritage. He went on for several minutes about the damage being done by high taxes, excess regulation, business "uncertainty" about future tax hikes and regulatory burdens. I asked Bloomberg's host whether he was aware that corporate profits relative to national income had just hit a 60-year peak? He had heard rumors to that effect. Was he aware that taxes on corporate earnings were at a 60-year low? The Heritage guy had heard that might be the case.

Then why was uncertainty about taxes and the future burden of the Affordable Care Act holding back business investment and hiring right now? If managers thought taxes or regulatory costs might go up in the future, wouldn't it make sense to take advantage of today's low taxes and lower burdens to invest and hire today? According to the "uncertainty" argument, businesses are fearful they might face high taxes and extra health costs in 2016 or 2018. Shouldn't they expand hiring right now and scale back employment when they actually face higher costs (if they ever do)?

The "tax uncertainty" and "regulatory uncertainty" arguments would make more sense if, say, taxes were already high and might be going higher or regulatory burdens were heavy and might be getting heavier. But when taxes are at a 60-year low and the regulations are pretty much the same as they were in the 1990s boom, the argument makes no sense at all. As we used to say down on the farm, you should "make hay while the sun shines." In other words, if you think it's going to rain later in the week, it strengthens the case for cutting and baling right now.

The odd thing is, when businesses are asked why they're not expanding, "high taxes" and "heavy regulatory burdens" and "tax uncertainty" don't feature as prominent answers. They mostly say they don't see good prospects for extra sales. But right-wing economists have their talking points, even if they make little sense, and they're sticking with 'em. Another of their favorites is "... executives tell me they can't find good candidates for the job openings they have." Don't get me started on that one.
Sadly, the American people haven't caught on that the political right is simply lying about the economy and government. The right is blinded by its ideology and simply refuses to open their eyes and see reality. As long as they do that, America will continue to be caught in a decades long depression.

This is what eating your own seed corn and cutting your own throat looks like:

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