There's an old saying among hermeticists: Telling someone a truth he isn't ready to hear is worse than lying. I hope that adage has it wrong.
In this column
, Dean Baker tells the American people some basic facts which many will find unwelcome. He explains why the nation has become obsessed with fixing the debt -- which is obviously
a serious problem -- at a time when we should concentrate on restoring prosperity.
Yes, there's a plot afoot, a plot to mislead the people. A not-very-secret group has been fixing the terms of our debate. But you'll never hear our nation's numerous conspiracy buffs (most of whom are Libertarians) talk about this network...
The Campaign to Fix the Debt, a nonpartisan organization involving many of the country's richest and most powerful CEOs, sets out to do just that. It has become standard practice in Washington for Wall Street types and other wealthy interests to finance groups to push their agenda.
The Campaign to Fix the Debt involves the CEOs themselves directly stepping up to the plate and pushing the case for cutting Social Security and Medicare as well as lowering the corporate income tax rate.
It's clear what's going on here. We don't need any conspiracy theories.
CEOs from both political parties have openly come together to demand cuts in Social Security and Medicare, two programs that enjoy massive political support across the political spectrum. The wealthy are joining hands without regard to political affiliation to cut benefits that enjoy broad bipartisan support among everyone who is not rich.
President Barack Obama has an opportunity to show real leadership. He should explain to the public the basic facts that all budget experts know: We do not have a chronic deficit problem. The big deficits are the result of collapsed economy.
The Libertarians want us to believe that lowered (or eradicated) taxes on the "job creators" will create more investment and more jobs. That's a lie.
In fact, if anything, investment is surprisingly strong given the large amount of excess capacity in the economy. Measured as a share of GDP, investment in equipment and software is almost back to its prerecession level.
What isn't back to prerecssion level is consumer demand
. That can be created by making sure less money goes into the Lichtenstein and Cayman Island bank accounts of the super-wealthy. We need to put the money directly into the pockets of working Americans, through the creation of jobs programs.
Here's the part Baker doesn't tell you -- the part that I have a hard time admitting to myself.
One could argue that Mitt Romney might have more easily found a path toward that very goal, a path unavailable to Barack Obama. During election season, Romney sounded all the familiar alarms about the deplorable state of the American military and the need to invest more heavily in Defense. All of those alarms were nonsense, of course. We're armed to the teeth -- hell, we're armed to the tonsils
. Clearly, Romney hoped to use military Keynesianism as a jobs creation engine.
Of course, Romney (like Dubya) would have run that engine on borrowed money, not increased revenues. Republicans are allowed
to do things like that.
Or is that still the case...? When Dick Cheney said "Reagan proved deficits don't matter," he spoke before the advent of the Tea Party. I'm convinced that our ruling elite now includes a number of people who don't particularly care if American prosperity ever returns, even by way of a new arms build-up.
But that thought really does
take us into the regions of conspiracy theory.