Paul Krugman: Bush's economic policies are Robin Hood in reverse

From a speech by the professor of economics at Princeton University to the Institute for Public Policy Research
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The Independent Online

We have a very radical government in the United States right now and it's primarily about domestic policy. Ronald Reagan had tax cuts that weren't funded, but there is a theory - supply-side economics - under which they made sense. You could say that's a silly theory, but there was at least a theory. George Bush is simply saying that two minus one equals four.

We have a very radical government in the United States right now and it's primarily about domestic policy. Ronald Reagan had tax cuts that weren't funded, but there is a theory - supply-side economics - under which they made sense. You could say that's a silly theory, but there was at least a theory. George Bush is simply saying that two minus one equals four.

A combination of dishonesty and irresponsibility runs through all his economic proposals. The level of cooking the books that goes on in each of the major policy proposals, I think, has got no precedent in US history.

These economic policies are Robin Hood in reverse. You have a set of tax cuts which are completely unfunded - there's no explanation of how we can afford these tax cuts. Of course we all believe in cyclical policy, so a temporary set of tax cuts and spending increases in the face of a depressed economy makes sense. But these are all intended to be permanent tax cuts, and yet we have a large structural deficit in the United States, so these are tax cuts that enlarge a structural deficit.

Something has to give eventually. There is no explanation of where that is going to come from, but on any plausible model of how the budget is eventually brought under control - whether it is through increases in other taxes or cuts in social security programmes which is where the money is - the tax cut plus spending cut package ends up leaving a large majority of the population worse off and a small minority of the population a lot better off.

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