Thursday, January 10, 2008

John McCain: Economic Illiterate

There are many things about John McCain's personal story that I admire. Having said that, we need to bear in mind that McCain is ultra-right wing in much of his outlook, and his economic ideas tend to be inconsistent nonsense. The Economist, the conservative British magazine, calls him out here:

The curiosities [of McCain's views] extend to tax policy, where supply-side fallacies continue to seduce the Republican candidates. Obviously, there is some tax rate at which reduced levels of taxation will increase revenues, but all evidence (including assessments from the current White House administration) indicates we are nowhere near those damagingly high rates. What does Senator McCain believe?

“Tax cuts increase revenues,” [Senator McCain] told Charlie Rose in November.

Oops! Actually, Mr [David] Leonhardt [in the NYT] goes on to note that his campaign later retracted that statement, instead articulating the very sensible point that:

“Tax cuts don’t pay for themselves, but pro-growth tax cuts — especially along with spending restraint — spur the economy, which raises incomes, and offsets the revenue loss.”

Which is not, as best I can tell, a retraction.

But my favorite episode of McCainian economic illiteracy has to be the joke he frequently tells about Democratic efforts to fund the S-CHIP health program with increased cigarette taxes:

"And by the way, a dollar a pack increase for cigarettes? So we want to take care of children's health and we want everybody to smoke? I don't get it."

No, I suppose he doesn't.
As they say in Bloggersville, read the whole thing.

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