Ten

« Is Internet Encryption Doomed | Main | Labor Monday (11-04) »

November 04, 2002

The Muddled Election

It is odd to have an election where so much is at stake and the messages on all sides are so muddled. In some ways, one is feeding the other, as both sides fear making a big mistake more than being willing to take bold steps to get an advantage. So the GOP obscures their positions on social security privatization and most Dems refuse to call for repeal of the rest of Bush's tax cuts.

I think the Dems missed a chance to nationalize the elections by refusing to declare straight out that the Bush tax cuts were a mistake and the explosion of the deficit means that those resources would better be directed to jobs and domestic homeland security. Part of the problem is that key vulnerable Dems-- Johnson, Carnahan, Torricelli (early on) and Baucus -- supported the tax cuts, so it was hard to make a Democrat "Contract with America" type declaration without putting those candidates in a bind.

The sad thing is, as I noted a while ago, that even Erskine Bowles in North Carolina felt that calling for repeal of those tax giveaways to the wealthy was a winning issue. And he has steadily gained on Dole with that viewpoint.

So what are the likely results? I won't modify my prediction of a gain of two Senate seats for the Dems made months ago, but it's kind of a dartboard given the dead-heat set of races.

The Dems won't get the House and hopefully Gephardt will be pushed out of leadership, having failed for eight years to develop a successful strategy for retaking control. His selling out of Daschle and other Dems on the Iraq vote makes him no longer a reliable and dependable leader for the party in the House.

But whether happy or sad tomorrow, I hold to my basic prediction for 2004. Bush is history. The Pitt scandal is just the tip of an iceberg of corporate corruption and deficit swamp that is about to swallow his administration.

Posted by Nathan at November 4, 2002 01:17 PM

Trackback Pings

TrackBack URL for this entry:
http://www.nathannewman.org/cgi-bin/mt-tb.cgi/323

Comments

And what do you say to those -- like Max Sawicky and what's-his-name in the Times the other day, and me for that matter--who argue that fear of deficits is a greater obstacle to the kind of activist government we want to see than the tax cuts are?

Posted by: JW Mason at November 4, 2002 01:26 PM

I'd say "what fear of deficits?" The first Bush years have seen a massive tax cut and explosive expansion of defense spending, with barely a word about deficits, except for when Bush wants to attack a program he doesn't like.

Seeking to balance budgets, at least in good economic times, is no opponent of progressive government. There is no reason we can't raise the revenue necessary to pay for expanded government-- Europe does it all the time. Deficits are far more likely to serve Republican policies at this point, since it let's them sell tax cuts in the short-term without having to sell the pain of domestic spending cuts. But in the long-run, they undermine those programs by piling up debt that needs to be paid for, before other spending can be dealt with.

Posted by: Nathan Newman at November 4, 2002 01:38 PM

Well, yours.

My starting point is that from a macroeconomic perspective, the federal government should currently be running a *much larger* deficit. If you disagree, check out Wynne Godley's stuff at the Levy institute and tell me why he's wrong.

So there is no legiitmate sense that the Bush tax cuts are an obstacle to social spending. The *perception* that deficits are a problem is such an obstacle, however.

The Bush cuts, while horribly regressive, did have some expansionary effect. Given the choice between the Bush cuts and deficit reduction, there is no question in my mind that progressives should prefer the former.

"In good economic times." Sure -- let's have that discussion in a few years, tho.

"Europe does it all the time." I would sy that most left of center economists, and not a few who are not left, see the Growth and Stability Pact's limits on deficit spending as a significant drag on European growth in general and on social spending in particular.


"tax cuts in the short-term without having to sell the pain of domestic spending cuts. But in the long-run, they undermine those programs by piling up debt that needs to be paid for, before other spending can be dealt with."

What I'm saying is that the deficits created by the Bush tax cuts do *not* undermine social spending in the long run. Tpo the extent that they have an expansionary effect, they *increase* the scope for social spending down the road. You may disagree, but you have to make the argument, not just assume it.

Since the Reagan administration, there has been a more or less conscious effort to create fedderal budget deficits to limit government. To the extent that we accept that even modest deficits must reduce spending in other areas, we make their work easier.

Posted by: JW Mason at November 4, 2002 01:55 PM

The European Pact is stupid because it has short-term straightjackets on deficits. I don't care if there are deficits this year in the middle of a recession, but the problem with Bush's tax cuts are they blow a hole in long-term budgets over the next decade or so, crowding out options to spend the money on other choices.

A winning issue for Democrats would have been to call for cancelling tax cuts for the wealthy, to go into effect in a few years, and to spend the money this year on jobs and health care increases. While this would increase the deficit in the short-term, it would not increase it over the long-term.

That would have sold equity and reasonable fiscal responsibility at the same time. That's smart politics and good policy at the same time.

Posted by: Nathan Newman at November 4, 2002 02:36 PM

I just checked the Gallup poll website and found some reason to hope for Democratic conquest of the House. The latest poll indicates a shift to Republicans among likely voters. Of course, the Democrats are ahead among registered voters.

Correct me if I am wrong; the pollsters rely on voting precedents to derive the likely voter profile. Gallup cites a huge Republican bias in the actual vote, noting Democrats' and Independents' under-representation. They don't seem to take into account the 2000 experience, in which trade unionists and African-Americans boosted their participation at the polls.

The AFL-CIO and NAACP voter mobilization is beneath the radar for the media, but Republican operatives will be strolling the streets with evil intent.

Posted by: David Jacobs at November 4, 2002 03:55 PM

Nathan:

The Dems won't get the House and hopefully Gephardt will be pushed out of leadership, having failed for eight years to develop a successful strategy for retaking control. His selling out of Daschle and other Dems on the Iraq vote makes him no longer a reliable and dependable leader for the party in the House. "

I can only hope you're right. If it wasn't for labor, he wouldn't stand a chance in his run for POTUS, not that I think he's got much of one anyway. And in a way, it'll be poetic justice. Good riddance to the biggest chamelion in the party and the very defintion of namby-pambyness.

"But whether happy or sad tomorrow, I hold to my basic prediction for 2004. Bush is history. The Pitt scandal is just the tip of an iceberg of corporate corruption and deficit swamp that is about to swallow his administration."

I think we'll see the Dems gain 3 senate seats, not win the house but gain as many as 8 governor seats. That said, I hold true to my prediction that chimpy wins easily in 2004.

Scandles will not do him in...there have been many already...chimpco has lost control of the press for roughly 2 3-day news cycles in over two years. Dems have hoped against hope that the press would do him in since a year before the election, and the only thing that's occured since then is a virtual command of the press by chimpco. If corporate scandal could be played effectively by the dems, we'd be winning back the house this week!

Deficits? You must be kidding? Goopers as a rule don't care about deficits as long as they get tax cuts and defense pork. The left? They won't crow about deficits as long as they get thrown some pork themselves....and the only real alternative to fiscal responsibility is raising taxes. That leaves the middle, the voters that the press played up to with the doom and gloom scenarios of bushI and sluggo's deficits. This required a PRESS to play it up and be interested in it...if they even try it now, they'll be seen as anti-American 'cause all that spending went to defense, right?

Hoping for the press or a scandal ain't much hope, imo.


Posted by: jdw at November 4, 2002 08:23 PM

Post a comment




Remember Me?

(you may use HTML tags for style)