August 14, 2008

I Kinda Liked Him Better Under the Bus

When Senator Obama selected Professor Austan Goolsbee for his economic team, the news was well received. Even some supply siders recognized Goolsbee as a serious economist, and many were comforted by the University of Chicago. Though never mistaken as one of the "Chicago Boyz," guys like me thought that Milton Friedman's water fountain had magic powers.

As I've complained here before, Goolsbee quickly found hidden talents as a partisan hack. His appearances on Kudlow & Company produced far more talking points than economic commentary. Today, Goolsbee and Obama Economic Policy Director, Jason Furman, pen a guest editorial in the WSJ. The piece purports to calm the business community about the Senator's economic proposals. But it's surprisingly defensive and unsurprisingly (look who's talking) full of partisan hackery. Check the lede:

Even as Barack Obama proposes fiscally responsible tax reform to strengthen our economy and restore the balance that has been lost in recent years, we hear the familiar protests and distortions from the guardians of the broken status quo.

Jeez, you can't argue with these guys. They propose a massive restructuring in the tax code and substantial hikes in marginal rates and in revenues off capital. When people rightfully question that, they get called names.

The rest of the article declares the Obama tax plan as being not as bad as what you have heard or suspected, and the familiar comparison to tax rates in the 90s, when fish jumped and cotton grew high. They provide a few specifics, but when it becomes time to compare their plan to Senator McCain's we get back to name-calling. McCain == Bush:

"The McCain plan represents Bush economics on steroids...Sen. McCain has put forward the most fiscally reckless presidential platform in modern memory. The likely results of his Bush-plus policies are clear...America cannot afford another eight years like these."

The familiar protests and distortions from the guardians of the broken status quo, signing out!

UPDATE: Jimmy P thinks it more significant: With Polls Close, Obama Blinks on Taxes. I'd say that they had never really released details and are now drawing the lines to look more reasonable on taxes. Mister Pethokoukis thinks it a big change in position -- and does a great job fielding the line about how good the economy was in the 1990s with these rates:

Look, it is not just the level of tax rates, it's the direction. Second, the Clinton tax hikes happened after the economy had built up a tremendous head of steam. When Clinton signed his big tax increase bill in August 1993, the economy had been expanding for nine consecutive quarters—more than two years—and was able to power through the negative economic impact of the hikes.

In 2009, the United States might be just emerging from a nasty downturn, only to get hit by a tax increase. Also, recent research shows that tax hikes may be less harmful if accompanied by spending cuts. Yet Obama is planning huge and specific spending increases matched by often vague spending reductions. Clintonomics was all about balancing the budget. This is not a priority for Obama.

2008 Posted by John Kranz at August 14, 2008 12:18 PM
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