Saturday, 16 April 2011

If You Oppose Dehydration You Must Support Drowning

There's a nice catch here from Jonathan Chait, relayed by E.D. Kain. It's worth being careful about this, though.  Accusations (or implications, as we have here) of hypocrisy and/or its little brother flip-flopping are very common in politics, and you need to be sure about what you're saying.

I actually think it would be pretty unfair to label Ryan or any other Republican a hypocrite because they claim to worry about significant budget surpluses and significant budget deficits.  Unless the former ("We haz too much money, oh noes!!1!1") is a ridiculous worry in itself - and if that's so, no-one has said so - calling hypocrisy on this alone is as foolish as doing so over a parent who is worried about their two children; one morbidly obese and the other anorexic.

We'll get nowhere pretending this on its own is ridiculous.  Moreover, as Chait goes some way to acknowledging, whilst Ryan's ideas actually helped cause the change from surplus to hideous deficit, that doesn't mean he can't be worried about the mess he's helped cause.

The point at which Ryan deserves all the scorn we can heap on him isn't that he's worried about both extremes of the scale, then, it's that his solution to both extremes is identical. To return to our worried parent, it's like they decide that both their children are suffering from eating disorders, and therefore must be put on the same diet - which has less food than the one they were previously on.

If the solution to a budget surplus is tax cuts for the rich, how in the name of all that's unholy can tax cuts for the rich form part of a plan for deficit reduction?  Chait calls this a partisan slant, but I think it's easier to see it as ideological intractability on a breath-taking scale.  Of course, one of the common features of this level of dogmatism is that it makes no sense in comparison with itself. For years American conservative thought has been convinced the US is behind the Laffer curve, and reducing tax levels will actually increase revenue as the rich find new ways to spend all that delightful cash on business.  Now we find out though that Republicans only think that's true when the economy is rubbish.  When the economy is most friendly to new business schemes - well, of course it won't work then.

The only holistic conclusion then is that Republicans believe the degree to which new business and investment creates amounts of money in direct proportion to how difficult the circumstances are for creating amounts of money.  Well, that or it's all bullshit. I think you can guess which side of that dichotomy I'm on.

To be clear, I think Chait is pretty much on the money, and I think Kain clearly intended people to read Chait's article (it just raised my eyebrows that he did so whilst using a common term for accusing people of flip-flopping), so this isn't intended as a complaint against either of them specifically.  It's just something I think is worth pointing out.  It's always important to ensure Republicans are skewered on exactly the right issue.  It's not like we lack for targets.

No comments: