Yet More Hymanomics
Continuing with his list of suggestions for getting the nation’s financial house in order, Mark Hyman says Congress should look at the long term effects of its policies and use the Congressional Budget Office and the General Accounting Office as sources for financial fact checking.
Of course, both the CBO and the GAO are already used by legislators to provide studies of economic issues, and it’s not quite clear what, if anything, is novel about Hyman’s suggestions here.
But putting that aside, I’m just wondering: why doesn’t Hyman mention the White House in this context? Throughout his series, Hyman focuses almost solely on the legislative branch of government, ignoring the role of the executive in setting priorities.
I agree that government programs and spending shouldn’t be done without looking at the long term consequences to be paid for short term political gain. I also agree that CBO and GAO reports should be seriously considered when making financial plans. I just wish the White House felt the same way.
Despite Hyman’s fixation on Congress, it’s the Bush White House that’s most egregiously sinned against the tenets of sound fiscal policy (not that Congress has been much better . . . remind me again, though: which party is in control of both houses of Congress?). The most obvious example are the “wealth-fare” government giveaways to the richest Americans in the form of tax breaks. As bad as such misplaced charity is, the administration and its allies in Congress would love to make these tax cuts permanent. What better example could one find of politicians making short-sighted decisions for personal gain at the expense of future generations?
According to the CBO, making the Bush wealthfare tax cuts permanent would explode the national debt. Already, the cuts have caused the tax burden to be put disproportionately on the middle-class, the demographic group whose financial wellbeing is essential to the long term health of the economy. According to a study conducted by the Urban Institute, such a shift not only places an undue burden on today’s middle class, but will cause future generations to have to pay for the today’s giveaway’s to the rich.
And the fun doesn’t stop there. As the Washington Post has noted, throw in Bush’s privatization scheme (a.k.a. “Let’s Roll Back the New Deal and Go with the Old”) for Social Security, and the future looks even bleaker for those down the road who will be left paying the cost for Dubyanomics.
But, say the administration’s backers, the Social Security reforms the president is fighting for are necessary to save the system.
Actually, no. In fact, the president’s privatization scheme will actually harm Social Security in the short run and will not provide a solution to the problem anytime in the foreseeable future. Add this to the already sizable national debt that the administration is ignoring, and you have the makings of major systemic problems in the nation’s economy for future generations.
The source of this diagnosis? Comptroller-General David Walker of the GAO.
Yes, Mark, you’re right: when independent agencies tell us politicians are mortgaging our future for their own gain, we should hold them accountable. Why not start at the top?
And that’s The Counterpoint.