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Stimulus Spending--Stuntz

There is a lot of talk these days about America’s, and the world’s, lurch to the political left.  Seems to me, that talk gets things backward. Given the massive public debt that Congress is creating, in the near future—that is, before Obama’s first term is over—the federal government will be forced to cut spending massively. Tax hikes are coming, and substantial ones, but taxes alone will not be able to pare down the deficit to reasonable levels. Government is expanding today. Soon, government will shrink. Obama’s Administration may usher in not a new New Deal, but an era of Coolidge-style austerity. Life is full of ironies.

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I really, really wish that were true. Or, maybe, that I could believe that to be true. When I hear folks on NPR (I think?) talking blithely and wistfully about how marginal tax rates in Eisenhower's days were in the 90% range and when significant players in a Democratic Congress talk about a 25% budget cut for DoD, I think the plan is to effect a significant social and political realignment via government spending. I don't doubt that the Dems genuinely believe that spending $800B in the next couple of years will help lead to recovery, but I think also that they're looking to "urbanize" American politics, hoping that a (relatively) high-tax, high-regulation, high-service polity can be achieved by getting some significant part of the population and economy dependent on government outlays. And, of course, as a happy coincidence, they'll also reduce the GOP to a "me-too" sort of party like the UK's Tories. It's not socialism at all. It's "big-city" politics and it's coming to a Main Street near us all...

Professor Stuntz,

I regularly marvel at your intelligence and I'm extremely hesitant to arrive at a different conclusion from you.

But I really have no idea how you could be right about this.

It seems to me that what's going on politically is a massive disruption. No one really knows what to do, but everyone realizes that the landscape is exceptionally malleable. Possibilities that had been previously precluded are now within the realm of achievability. (See, for instance, all the recent talk of regulating and taxing marijuana for revenue.)

Since no one knows what to do, everyone is proposing their preconceived prescriptions as just the remedy for our nation's malady.

Obama's prejudice is for bigger government.

So that is what are children shall be getting and paying for. The yoke will be stronger, the burden heavier, the lash will carry greater sting.

I can't believe the people in Jefferson's Charlottesville voted for this tyrant.