NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Bartlett Says Democrats Lack Answers on the Economy

October 16, 2002

With midterm elections looming, Americans are very apprehensive about the economy. Under ordinary circumstances, one would expect Republicans to be in trouble. But so far, they are not.

Nonpartisan analysts point the finger at the total lack of a Democratic agenda on the economy. Even prominent Democrats share this view. Last week, The Hill newspaper quoted Senator Fritz Hollings (D-S.C.) as saying, "Our problem is the Democrats whine and whine. Republicans say the trouble is spending. We say the reason for the trouble is 'we don't know.'"

Hollings himself said the problem is "the tax cuts."

  • Presumably, Hollings would repeal last year's tax cut if he could, even though it would constitute a major tax increase for many Americans over what they would pay under current law.
  • However, as an October 5 Washington Post editorial opined, "President Bush's main economic policy -- the large tax cut of last year -- was not responsible for any of the current damage."
  • "Indeed, given the twin shocks of 9/11 and the post-Enron stock market decline, the short-term stimulus created by the tax cuts has turned out to be fortuitously well timed."

The Democrat dilemma, concludes Bruce Bartlett, is that they hate the tax cut, but cannot bring themselves to openly advocate its repeal. They really want more government spending, but have committed themselves to a balanced budget, which Bill Clinton and Bob Rubin convinced them was the key to prosperity. So they are left demanding a tax increase to pay for more spending to stimulate the economy. This strikes most Americans and all economists as a contradiction in terms.

Source: Bruce Bartlett, senior fellow, National Center for Policy Analysis, October 16, 2002.


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