Jared Bernstein | On the Economy
The national debate over economic policy is way off track and the stakes are as high as can be. In every important area of economic and social policy—health care, fiscal policy (deficits, debt, taxes), public investment, retirement security, climate change, education, job growth, income distribution—there’s so much misinformation, so many false assertions, that it is impossible for anyone paying attention to evaluate the choices with which they’re faced.
Most important, as the 2012 election season gears up, we are poised to have a fundamental debate about the size and role of the federal government. But absent straight talk and plain, understandable facts from both sides of the argument—about the costs and benefits engendered by this choice—it will be impossible for voters to make an informed choice.
Let me be clear about where I stand. I view the conservative agenda right now as trying to implement a large shift in who bears the risk of those events in our personal and economic lives that are inadequately handled by private markets. In my view, to get this wrong means significant disinvestment in public goods from education to infrastructure, diminished health and retirement security, more booms and busts—a move from “we’re in this together” to “you’re on your own.”
But let me also be clear about this: there’s a legitimate argument to be had about this choice and I don’t assume that if the quality of our economic debate were suddenly vastly improved, my view of what’s good economic policy would prevail. A majority of the American electorate might well decide, once they had the facts, that they wanted a quite different sort of government, one that was much smaller, did less, and cost less as well.
But that’s not the argument we’re having. Conservatives essentially argue we can have it all for less: get government “out-of-the-way” and health care, job growth, investment, upward mobility, would be enhanced, not diminished. These claims are difficult to defend using facts—as opposed to assertion—and part of this blog will be devoted to sorting through them. – Jared Bernstein
Check out this clip (Mr Bernstein starts at the 6:30 mark) from the Dylan Ratigan show…