Which Presidential candidate called for “high sustained economic growth where more people can have earned success?” and in what year? No, it was not Bill Clinton in 1992. No, it was not Barack Obama in 2012. It was Jeb Bush in a sit-down with Sean Hannity during the CPAC conference. (For details see http://reason.com/blog/2015/02/27/jeb-bush-defends-himself-on-common-core )
Today I want to talk about some of the tax changes proposed in the 2016 budget just submitted by President Obama. It would be a great public service if we could get the predicted presidential candidates to respond to some of the specific elements of his proposals. I wish that those interested in running for the Democratic nomination would be forced to explain which of these proposals she or he supports and which he or she doesn’t support and – most importantly – why? The Republicans probably have it easier because they can just complain about how many billions (or trillions) of dollars of tax increases are in that proposal and leave it at that. In fact that is just what they did when the budget was first released. However, but even given the Republican mantra against any tax increases, it would be great to force them to get more specific about their objections.
Sometime soon, Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush will declare whether or not they are running for President, as will a host of others. The campaigns will probably be dominated by personalities, opposition research, an endless series of debates, one gaffe or another, one catchy slogan or another and virtually nothing of useful substance.
Nine years ago, the first commentary I presented identified two competing approaches to economics. The first one was personified by then Fed Chair Alan Greenspan who is well known as a free-market true-believer. In fact in his youth he was a philosophical follower of Ayn Rand. The other person highlighted in that commentary was the late John Kenneth Galbraith. Galbraith was a strong supporter of government action to fight unemployment and poverty. He was also a strong believer in macro-economic demand management following the arguments of John Maynard Keynes. In that first commentary, I made it appear as if Galbraith was for “big government” while Greenspan was for “small government.”
What can economics tell us about the Ebola problem? First it can answer the question as to why there has never been a vaccine manufactured for human consumption, even though the virus was first isolated in 1976 and there have been a number of (small) outbreaks of the disease since. Second, it can point ways to a policy action that can lead to the widespread availability of such a vaccine.
Back in 1993, the original proposal from the Clinton Administration on how to close the budget deficits that they had inherited upon taking office included a revenue raiser called a BTU tax --- a tax on the amount of energy (measured in British Thermal Units) contained within all fuels sold.
On September 10, I watched President Obama justify sending the US air force (and Special Operations “trainers”) back into combat in Iraq and in the near future into Syria as well. According to recent polls, over 70% of those asked favored air strikes in Iraq against ISIL – the so-called “Islamic State.” This is not surprising, given the revulsion that many Americans feel towards that group. As the President rightly pointed out, ISIL has engaged in massacres, ethnic cleansing, brutal public executions and more significantly, offers the people under its control nothing positive for their futures. Nevertheless, even though ISIL is a group of vicious murderers that does not in and of itself justify military intervention.
I assume many listeners have seen the television footage of the angry mobs in places such as Murrieta, California and other places holding up signs urging the government to send back the immigrant children who were being bused to processing centers.
I recently read an OP-ED piece on line that really made me angry. It focused on the coalition challenging the scientific community on the issue of global warming. It was written by Meredith Tax and entitled “Climate change and false gods: Moloch and the bible-punchers in the US” (It was posted on April 14, 2014 on the opendemocracy.net website.)