Monday, March 14, 2016

US Politics And 36 Years Of Magical Thinking

Ronald Reagan believed in magic.  He sold Americans on a powerful belief in magic that has been impossible to dispel.  He told voters that he could cut taxes, increase military spending and balance the federal budget.  He believed that this would be possible because the tax cuts would cause the economy and tax revenue to grow enough to pay for the tax cuts.  The magic did not work as Reagan had promised.  Budget deficits mushroomed, and the national debt tripled during his Administration.  One would think that voters would lose faith in Reagan's magic but they have not. Each of the candidates for the Republican nomination are selling the same version of Reagan's magic.  All of them argue that they can cut taxes, increase military spending and balance the federal budget.  As one might expect,  Donald Trump is selling a more powerful version of magic than his competitors.  He has proposed larger tax cuts, and he promises that he can continue to pay for popular entitlements by eliminating government waste.  Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz argued that there was not enough waste in government to maintain entitlements at their current level,  They promised to pay for their tax cuts by gradually reducing entitlement spending so that those receiving benefits today would not be affected by their cuts in taxes.  Future generations will have to pay for the tax cuts.  At present, Donald Trump's version of magic is selling better than the magic promised by his competition.  This election will come and go but the magic promised by the GOP will remain a fixture in their policy proposals.  We don't want to live in a world without magic.  The tooth fairy will live forever.

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