After I made my last post about Mitt Romney’s accidental truth-telling about the deficit and austerity, I noticed that there were quite a few people across the political spectrum that had the same reaction. Since a few people, including some close friends, thought I was a bit harsh, I decided to round up a few of them here.
If you haven’t read it yet, go here, and then compare to these reactions below.
Jonathan Chait, columnist at New York magazine and formerly of The New Republic makes note of the complete lack of reaction from Romney’s fellow Republicans.
I’ve thought that this represents primarily a case of self-delusion in the cause of political self-interest, as opposed to conscious cynicism: Republicans understood that bigger deficits would spur faster growth and reduce their chances of regaining power, so they found themselves more persuaded by theories suggesting bigger deficits wouldn’t really help. But if they had really converted to this belief, wouldn’t there be even a tiny bit of wailing about Romney’s open endorsement of Keynesianism? It’s not as if conservatives have been shy about holding his feet to the fire when he expresses some tiny deviation from their position. Yet I have noticed zero conservative complaints about Romney’s big fat wet kiss to John Maynard Keynes, which suggests their level of actual devotion to this position borders on nil.
Bruce Bartlett, conservative economist and budget adviser to Presidents Reagan and Bush, notes that the GOP has traditionally supported government stimulus in the face of private sector retrenchment.
Although Ronald Reagan never expressed sympathy with Keynes, many economists have asserted that his economic policies were de facto Keynesian. They point to the sharp rise in federal spending to 23.5 percent of G.D.P. in 1983, from 21.7 percent in Jimmy Carter’s last year, which significantly softened the blow of the 1981-82 recession and helped restore growth.
Alex MacGillis points out this isn’t the first time Romney has admitted that government spending cuts hurt the economy.
To this, I would just add that this is not the first time that Romney has flirted with common-sense Keynesianism. On the campaign trail in Michigan in February, he had this to say: “If you just cut, if all you’re thinking about doing is cutting spending, as you cut spending you’ll slow down the economy. So you have to, at the same time, create pro-growth tax policies.”
The impact of this statement, according to Newsweek columnist Michael Tomasky, is a strong indictment of Congressional Republicans.
What’s astonishing is, here we have the GOP nominee admitting that what the GOP Congress has been doing for the past three years is wrecking the economy–acknowledging that cutting spending too fast leads to recession–or even (his word, not mine) depression. “A ramp that’s affordable” is a euphemism for the idea that he doesn’t want to cut spending too drastically and quickly because doing so has obvious consequences for the economy.
It seems to me, the GOP has some explaining to do. I won’t hold my breath waiting for the national press to hold them to it.