Republicans quickly attacked the document as a recipe for economic disaster, saying it would raise taxes on businesses and consumers in the middle of a recession in order to bankroll a massive government expansion. "The era of big government is back, and Democrats are asking you to pay for it," said House Minority Leader John A. Boehner (R-Ohio). "The administration's plan, I think, is a job killer, plain and simple." White House budget director Peter Orszag rejected that analysis, saying none of the tax increases would take effect until 2011. But some economists worry that even in 2011 the economy may be too fragile to absorb a tax increase. Meanwhile, some Democrats joined Republicans in complaining that the budget plan does not go far enough to narrow the yawning budget gap.
Dean Baker objects to this nonsense:
While no economists are identified with the view that President Obama's tax increases on the wealthy in 2011 will harm a fragile economy, the article does not discuss at all the economic impact of the cuts in spending that "some Democrats" and Republicans apparently favor. The multiplier for almost possible spending cuts would be considerably larger than the multiplier for the tax increases on the wealthy. Any economists who were concerned that tax increases in 2011 could harm a still weak economy would almost certainly be much more concerned about the prospect of spending cuts in that year.
OK – this is the standard Keynesian view but we are seeing a parade of folks on display at this blog who would tell you: (1) the multiplier for tax cuts is indeed high; and (2) increases in government spending completely crowd-out investment even during periods of unemployment. After all, the Treasury View is what must be taught to their graduate students. Of course, all real economists know the Treasury View does not hold when fiscal stimulus comes in the form of tax cuts for the rich – right?