I haven't had time to scrutinize the economic policy blueprint House Minority Leader John Boehner presented on Tuesday, during a speech he gave in Cleveland. But when I read the speech and the basics of his plan--extend all of the Bush tax cuts, cut some wasteful spending, etc.--I got the distinct impression his numbers did not add up. A new analysis from the NDN (New Democratic Network, as it used to be called) seems to confirm that. It concludes that Boehner's plan would add around 3.78 trillion in new debt to the government's ledger over the next ten years.
Shocking, I know. But that reminds me of another point, one I made in passing the other day but seems worth mentioning again. Conservatives like Boehner argue that tax relief for the very wealthy will boost the economy. Critics respond that the wealthy are relatively unlikely to spend the money, making such tax cuts a particularly ineffective stimulus.
But suppose, just for the sake of argument, the conservatives are right. Why make tax relief for the wealthy permanent? Wouldn't it make more sense to extend the cuts only for a few years, until the economic emergency is over?
That's how true economic stimulus works--by giving people more money to spend now, while the economy is having trouble. And it's how the Recovery Act, which consisted largely of temporary tax breaks and one-time expenditures, actually worked.
But you don't hear Boehner and his allies proposing to extend Bush tax cuts for a year or two. They want to extend those cuts permanently, so that they continue to deplete the federal treasury even after the economy has recovered.
It's almost as if they don't really care about deficits at all...