One brilliant governing strategy

The Wall Street Journal’s editors know how to frame a debate. That frame is made of lies, of course, but so be it. If it sells the party line, all is fair.

If ever there was a market test of economic policy, the last three years have been it. The stock market has recovered from its implosion in Bill Clinton’s last year in office, unemployment is down to 4.7%, and growth has averaged 3.9% in the three years since those tax cuts passed–well above the post-World War II average and more than twice the growth rate in Euroland.

It’s not enough to say the tech bubble collapsed, it was clearly Bill Clinton’s fault. Our greater economic growth than Europe has nothing to do with a complex combination of factors, but rests solely on one set of tax cuts. The partisan defense only appears because it’s so self-evident, I guess. More interesting, though, is this:

Yes, gas prices are high and interest rates are rising, which helps to explain the anxiety felt by some of the public. But these headwinds are all the more reason to be impressed by the economy’s ability to push ahead nonetheless. We’d have thought that the Democrats who are now voting to let taxes increase would be thrilled to know that things turned out better than they had feared. Americans are better off despite Democratic predictions that, as Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi put it back in 2003, tax cuts would “damage long-term economic growth.”

When long-term is now defined as three years, it’s little wonder that current Republican economic “policy” is so great. Reap all the benefits of lower taxes and greater spending, with no worries that the looming (super-duper, extra-double long term?) devastation will come up and bite the savior President Bush. The hero always rides off into the sunset, but perhaps this is where we should remember what the horse leaves behind for the saved as the hero claims the glory.

Tax cuts are great, and I’m generally for them. I like the money I earn and would love to keep it. However, Congress and the President have lost all sense of how to run a budget. I’d rather feel the rough impact of this current profligate spending in the next few years, than to feel the decimation from bankruptcy. Maybe that’s just a dash of realism in knowing that “starve the beast’ is a joke, or maybe it’s just naked cynicism. No matter. The bill is coming due at some point.

I know the political strategy is to leave the Democrat to take the blame for increased taxes (which they’ll happily do because they won’t control spending, either). But it tells me a lot to know no politician seems to care that we’re all the ones who will get screwed eventually. Consider the lesson learned. No political point is too small to score.