fiscal three-card monte

If you haven’t already, you might want to consider forwarding today’s op-ed from Paul Krugman to everyone in your address book. Here’s a clip:

Four years ago, Alan Greenspan urged Congress to cut taxes, asserting that the federal government was in imminent danger of paying off too much debt.

On Wednesday the Fed chairman warned Congress of the opposite fiscal danger: he asserted that there would be large budget deficits for the foreseeable future, leading to an unsustainable rise in federal debt. But he counseled against reversing the tax cuts, calling instead for cuts in Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid…

Until the 1970’s conservatives tended to be open about their disdain for Social Security and Medicare. But honesty was bad politics, because voters value those programs. So conservative intellectuals proposed a bait-and-switch strategy: First, advocate tax cuts, using whatever tactics you think may work – supply-side economics, inflated budget projections, whatever. Then use the resulting deficits to argue for slashing government spending.

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