Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Mankiw – Soak the Middle Class

Mark Thoma reads Greg Mankiw so we don’t have to:
If people like Mankiw wanted cuts to social insurance so badly, why didn't they speak up and make this absolutely clear before the election? When Republicans accused Democrats of, for example, wanting to cut Medicare, why didn't Mankiw say yes, that's exactly what President Romney should do! I'm one of his advisors, I've made that clear, and here's his plan for cuts to Medicare, Social Security, Medicaid, and the like. Why pretend you are the defenders instead of the cutters? The answer is, of course, is that it's not what the public wants. The bipartisan budget wonks in Washington may have their own plan to cut social insurance, but guess what? We live in a Democracy, and the Romney/Mankiw view was rejected (so now Republicans try to get it through the back door by gumming up the legislative works and holding the economy hostage). It's not what people want. Acting like it is what they want through a misleading suggestion that it's in some bipartsan commission report that doesn't actually exist is contrary to the message the election delivered.
I’m not sure if Mark has read Greg’s latest NY Times oped yet:
Fairness, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. Unfortunately, people’s judgment is often based on anecdotes that distort rather than illuminate. The story of the undertaxed Warren Buffett and his overtaxed secretary looms larger in the public’s mind than it should ... These data suggest that the rich are not, as a general matter, shirking their responsibilities to support the federal government. To me, the current tax system looks plenty progressive. Others may disagree. One point, however, cannot be disputed: Even if President Obama wins all the tax increases on the rich that he is asking for, the long-term fiscal picture will still look grim. Perhaps we can stabilize the situation for a few years just by taxing the rich, but as greater numbers of baby boomers retire and start collecting Social Security and Medicare, more will need to be done. Which brings us back to the middle class … Ultimately, unless we scale back entitlement programs far more than anyone in Washington is now seriously considering, we will have no choice but to increase taxes on a vast majority of Americans.
Shorter Mankiw – if the middle class wants their Social Security and Medicare benefits, they must pay higher taxes as we already tax the rich way too much. Let’s be fair to Greg – there are a lot of Romney Republicans who privately agree with this sentiment. But this is not the public message that Mitt Romney campaigned on. Nor is it the message that the rest of the Republican political leaders wish to admit publicly.


Mark A. Sadowski said...

"I’m not sure if Mark has read Greg’s latest NY Times oped yet..."

He posted it on Sunday:


Shag from Brookline said...

Let's vary "What did you do during the war, Daddy?" to ask Mankiw "What did you do in the Bush/Cheney Administration, Greg?" providing dates and his concerns (if any) during his tenure with what resulted in the Bush/Cheney 2008 Great Recession.