Wednesday, March 23, 2011

On Starving the Beast

(I may owe a hat tip to somebody, as I cannot recall where the idea for this subject came from)

Financial conservatives have been more than happy to blame the situation on the people spending the money.  And they're right; if we didn't spend the money, we wouldn't be in this situation.

But let's not forget the shadow of history.  Ronald Reagan started a policy loosely referred to as "Starving the Beast," a policy of deliberately targeting taxation rather than spending.  CATO research into the era of "Starving the Beast" fiscal conservatism strongly suggests that not only has it been unproductive, but counterproductive:
Michael J. New-“Starve the Beast: A Further Examination,” Cato Journal, 29(3): 487-495, Fall 2009. <- Comments by an advisor to both Reagan and Bush Sr, both strong proponents of the "Starve the Beast" strategy.

The references courtesy of Wikipedia, incidentally, because I'm lazy.

The evidence doesn't support any cutting of government spending; if anything, the public has called for ever-more, and who wouldn't?  They're getting discounted public services that future generations will be paying for.

So for those financial conservatives believing that we're facing a state of emergency which will lead to a gross expansion of federal powers - well, your political predecessors helped dig the hole.

Starve the Beast didn't and hasn't worked; as far as I can tell, it was in fact merely an excuse for so-called fiscal conservatives to spend as much as they wanted.

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