Austerity And Pessimism Won’t Win Elections

Optimism sells. Someone should remind the GOP of this fact.

Using the election results in France and Greece as a starting point, Matt Lewis makes an important point that Republicans would do well to remember:

It may serve as a helpful warning to the GOP that — while responsible governance is crucial — austerity, in and of itself, is not a political winner. In fact, its abandonment helped propel Ronald Reagan to the presidency — arguably, the most important conservative electoral victory in modern American history.

Reagan, of course, ran and lost as a traditional balanced budget Republican in 1976. But by 1980, he was advocating the more optimistic supply-side economics of Jack Kemp. There is a lesson to be learned here. Even as Republicans rightly suggest trimming the fat and getting our economic house in order, they would be wise to eschew the implication that their vision for the future involves wearing cardigans and turning down the thermostat. A defeatist attitude offends the American spirit. Conservatives, of all people, ought to appreciate this.

Optimism sells — even to fiscal conservatives.

This is the part of Ronald Reagan’s legacy that the contemporary right seems to forget. Living as they do in their hyper-partisan world where political warfare is the rule rather than the exception, they don’t realize that Ronald Reagan succeeded not because he “sold” conservatism to America so much as it was because he reinvigorated a sense of optimism that had been beaten down after a decade of war, protests, Watergate, and a stagnant economy. Sound familiar? It should. I’m generally not one of those people who believes in the idea that history repeats itself but the similarities between the condition of America, and Americans, today and 1980 are fairly apparent. The problems are different, of course, but the sense that the nation’s best days are behind it is back again, and what Americans really want, I think, is a reason to think the future will be better.

Instead, they’re getting the Republican Party, which seems to be locked into a gospel of doom and gloom, as I observed last year on the occasion of the centennial of Reagan’s birth:

The Ronald Reagan I remember was an optimist who spoke of America as being the “shining city on the hill,” and who, even if in the depths of  the Carter Malaise believed that the country’s best days were ahead of it, a sentiment that appeared throughout his major campaign speeches in 1980. One of the reasons Ronald Reagan was successful was because he brought that message of optimism at a time when the American public was becoming increasingly pessimistic.

Modern-day conservative rhetoric, especially as practiced by the Palin’s and Glenn Beck’s of the world, seems to have thrown that Reagan optimism overboard in favor of a philosophy that seems to find enemies around every corner, and conspiracies behind every event. I don’t know what you call that, but it sure as heck isn’t Ronald Reagan, which just makes the efforts by such people to claim Reagan’s legacy as their own all the more pathetic

Of course, the Republicans don’t really have a candidate talking optimistically about America the way Reagan did. Romney mouths the words sometimes but they really don’t seem sincere and it’s clear that the GOP audience he’s been talking to would rather hear him talk about how evil Obama is than anything else. It’s too bad, really, because an optimistic, pro-growth, message is exactly what the country needs right now.

None of this is to say that fiscal prudence isn’t important, or that we don’t need to seriously address the fiscal issues facing the nation sooner rather than later, of course. However there is a way to address those issues in a political message that doesn’t involve falling back on gloom and doom and, more importantly, many of these issues would begin to resolve themselves if we returned to an era of decent (i.e., 3.5-4.5%) economic growth rates. So in some sense, economic growth and fiscal responsibility are two sides of the same coin. Right now, though, the GOP only seems to be looking at one side of the coin and the message their sending isn’t exactly one that’s likely to win elections.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2012, US Politics
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Phillip says:

    Having been a conservative during those years, I would say Reagan’s optimism was discarded after the 1992 elections. The message was no longer self-sufficiency, it was “there is an enemy in our midst”.

  2. Hey Norm says:

    “…an optimistic, pro-growth, message is exactly what the country needs right now…”
    Actually the country is getting just such a message. It’s just coming form the candidate you hate…irrationally.

  3. @Hey Norm:

    No what they’re getting from him is class warfare and the glorification of an entitlement society.

    And I don’t “hate” the President, Norm. I’m sure he’s a nice guy. I just happen to disagree with him and I don’t think he’s done a particularly good job in office.

  4. “Romney mouths the words sometimes but they really don’t seem sincere”

    Isn’t that true about almost everything he says?

  5. Blue Shark says:

    According to the GOP, it is midnight (black) in America and we all know that … “The Night is Dark and Full of Terrors”

  6. Moosebreath says:

    Austerity also isn’t a way to help the economy grow out of the recession, either. And yet conservatives world-wide keep saying it’s what we need. The example of how austerity has led to slower growth and double-dip recession throughout Europe seems lost on them.

  7. Console says:

    Austerity lost because it led to a double dip recession in the countries in question, not because it wasn’t marketed right.

  8. Hey Norm says:

    “…what they’re getting from him is class warfare and the glorification of an entitlement society…”

    Wow…what flavor is that Kool-Aid??? Does it come directly from the RNC or do you get it from Fox News???
    What a joke.

  9. anjin-san says:

    No what they’re getting from him is class warfare

    Ah, no “warfare” for you, eh? Just a rigged game where the 1% always rolls sevens and everyone else is stuck with snake eyes. Complete with a lot of hosannas and bromides about the “free market” and limited government.

    Nope, no class warfare for you. The plutocrats declare victory, and the rest of us concede defeat and resign ourselves to 21st century serfdom, conservative style.

  10. Console says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    We’re also not getting a pointless austerity driven recession to satisfy the gods of right wing ideology.

  11. Jeremy says:

    @Moosebreath: Except Europe didn’t really practice austerity…at all.

    http://www.cato-at-liberty.org/paul-krugman-and-the-european-austerity-myth/

  12. J-Dub says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: Untrue! He seemed totally authentic when he said “I’m not sure about these cookies. They don’t look like you made them”

  13. RalfW says:

    “…while responsible governance is crucial…”

    Yep. And the history of America from Dick Nixon, through Reagan (hellooooo, deficits) to Bush, Clinton and Bush is, you guessed it, way more responsible and responsive governing with Democrats. It was helpful to have Republicans holding 1/3 of power to tap the brakes, when they did taht sort of thing.

    But in the McConnel-Cantor-Bohner years, that’s all out the window. This Congress has been a disaster, due in large measure to total irresponsibility by the GOP in both the House and Senate.

    The fantasy that Republicans govern responsibly is not borne out by the evidence.

  14. PJ says:

    Here’s some class warefare for you:

    House Republicans advanced a measure Monday that shifts automatic defense spending cuts the parties agreed to last August as part of a bipartisan debt-limit deal to domestic programs aimed at mitigating poverty and working-class struggles.

  15. J-Dub says:

    @Doug Mataconis: Exactly who it it that is entitled? Maybe the CEO that makes 400 times his average worker?

  16. RalfW says:

    @Jeremy: As always, trot out the dodge that somehow those conservatives in power didn’t do it right when implementing the conservative agenda. That has to be it. Policy failure can never, ever be because the policy sucks when you’re a conservative or particularly when you’re a Cato libertarian.

  17. Console says:

    @Jeremy:

    First of all, greece, ireland, spain, and italy certainly have implemented austerity and all are in recession.

    Second of all, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania are failures compared to places like Iceland.

    And just for the record, The united states has weathered this better than any country named in this thread or that CATO post.

  18. Moosebreath says:

    Jeremy,

    No, Europe has engaged in austerity, mostly (though not entirely) through tax increases. Just because the folks at Cato think austerity is another word for hurting the poor doesn’t mean the rest of us do.

    And in addition to Console’s list of countries which engaged in austerity, there’s the example of the UK.

  19. Hey Norm says:

    Regardless of Doug’s ODS…
    Romney has a single selling point…that he is a successful business man and can use that experience to guide the economy. But if you accept that argument then you have to look at his record as a businessman. First…he created nothing. He invested. Second…in each of these investments workers either lost jobs, or jobs were created…Bain’s record was about 50-50/ winners and losers…but the margins made on the winners made the business profitable. What is true in nearly every case is that the 1% won. If thousands lost jobs…so be it. If the jobs created paid $8 an hour…so be it.
    So that’s the record Romney voters will vote for…greater benefit for the 1%…at the expense of the rest. Read the Romney/Ryan budget. It’s the same thing as Bain. The 1% win…at the expense of the rest.
    And it’s not class warfare as Doug protests…it’s math.

  20. Kit says:

    Austerity might go down better were it not merely a guise to ruthlessly slash away at what most people consider essential aspects of our country. For example, when some tell us that we cannot afford to deliver mail and should not even be in the business, and then others stand up and applaud, well that does not feel like morning in America.

  21. Hey Norm says:

    @ Stormy…
    Austerity is not just spending cuts…which your link shows…but tax increases as well.

  22. @Doug Mataconis:

    No what they’re getting from him is class warfare and the glorification of an entitlement society.

    Be a little self-aware. You are outside the mainstream. The reason you collect down vote (not me this time) is that you assert fringe views as reality.

    CNN/ORC poll: Most Americans say tax system favors wealthy

    If you think headlines like that are “class warfare,” you’ll never understand what those Americans are trying to tell you.

  23. J-Dub says:

    @Hey Norm: At least the last businessman turned presidential candidate, Ross Perot, created EDS (Electronic Data Systems) and Perot Systems (from the ground up) and the high-paying tech jobs that came with it.

    Romney always talks about creating Staples (more like he agreed to provide the money for the people who created Staples). Oh boy, you created a big box store where minimum wage workers hawk paper. Good for you!

  24. @Stormy Dragon:

    I believe that graph is nominal dollars and that inflation adjusted graphs show a stronger decrease.

    Ah yes, a Purchase Power Parity adjusted graph is here.

    Gosh, I wonder why the first graph wasn’t adjusted?

    Also, as commentators at oh so many other sites have noted, given the automatic stabilizers, a net-net of zero would imply a sudden transfer of spending, say from education to health and welfare.

  25. Ron Beasley says:

    Romney’s problem is that while he wants to be a politician but he doesn’t like to campaign. He’s comes off as bored, he comes off at someone who objects to the fact he has to pander to the plebes. There is nothing he can do about it – that’s who he is.

  26. anjin-san says:

    @ PJ

    In California, the benefits that pay for wheelchairs for low-income folks are in danger. I have a relative who is seriously handicapped, lives in a wheelchair-enabled, disabled only apartment complex.

    I wish some of these champions of austerity could come and spend some time with these poor souls and see the terror in their eyes when they talk about losing these benefits.

    I guess austerity and limited government are good for people in wheelchairs, but not for defense contractors and oil companies feeding at the public trough.

  27. Hey Norm says:

    @ Norm…
    The big problem for Republicans, when it comes to presenting a positive message, is that for 3-1/2 years they have been part of the problem….they have been voting against America…hoping for the worst because they believed it would be to their benefit. You cannot oppose absolutely everything…then shake the Etch-a-Sketch…and suddenly present a positive message. Most Americans just aren’t THAT dumb.
    How do you turn “Let Detroit go bankrupt” into a positive?
    How do you turn “”Don’t try to stop the foreclosure process. Let it run its course and hit the bottom.” into a positive?
    Since the 2010 mid-terms Republicans at all levels of Government have been attacking women’s rights…it’s a fact…check the record. How do you turn fighting freedom into a positive? Cue Jack Nicholson…”You want me in that vagina…you need me in that vagina”
    Today in North Carolina they are voting to take away rights. How do you make that positive?
    They have fought Health Care reform but have no proposal…because Health Care Reform WAS their porposal. How do you turn opposition to it, and a return to the unsustainable staus quo, into a positive?
    Obama has rid the world of OBL, Quadaffi, and al Awalki and Republicans kicked and screamed the whole way. How do you turn opposition into a positive?
    Yeah…Reagan had a positive message…but Reagan would not have won this primary. Reagan wouldn’t have gotten out of Iowa.

  28. Ben Wolf says:

    @Jeremy: Cato has yet again demonstrated itself as economically ignorant by making the most basic of macroeconomic mistakes and confusing budgetary outcomes with budgetary policies.

    Britain’s budget cuts are responsible for its deficit because spending = incomes: lower spending means greater unemployment, which means lower government revenues which means a larger deficit. In addition as people are thrown out of work the automatic stabilizers ramp up spending to compensate, also increasing the size of the budget deficit. Everyone not driven by envy, hate and conservative contempt warned this would be exactly the outcome if the Cameron government cut spending, and now we have Cato playing its usual propaganda role arguing that the answer is to cut harder, faster. There is of course no empirical evidence of any kind that this will do snything but make the situation worse, but that won’t stop them..

    @Doug Mataconis
    I respect much of your work here Doug, but this is where you continue to fall down on your face. You don’t have an economic argument, you have an ideology which so far has proved impervious to data.

  29. @john personna:

    Actually, your PPP graph makes the austerity argument look even more bogus. As it shows that the cuts (if any) are a minor blip after a decade where spending more than doubled in real terms.

  30. @Stormy Dragon:

    Wilkinson has the right, intelligent, lede when he opens:

    I suspect the entire debate hinges on a difference in assumptions about the relevant spending baseline.

    Tell me, why would your assumption be that in a major recession, with several “worst since the 1930’s” records, would you take any decline as “bogus?”

    Is your assumption that governments just continue on, caring only about net spending, and not sector spending?

    Do you think that if food stamp costs rise in response to increased unemployment it is just natural to cut education or parks funding to balance?:

    No. It is bad economic analysis. The food stamps are partially offsetting a fall in private sector wages, and when you cut education to compensate, it is net-net austerity.

    If you do the accounting, net-net, for the government sector, that’s the way it work out.

  31. @Stormy Dragon:

    You certainly cannot just name your favorite number, from a parallel universe with lower spending, as “baseline” and then declare that spending, even with cuts, is higher than that.

    Good lord, austerity is “bogus” because you personally would not have spent as much?

  32. Ben Wolf says:

    @john personna:

    Do you think that if food stamp costs rise in response to increased unemployment it is just natural to cut education or parks funding to balance?:

    No. It is bad economic analysis. The food stamps are partially offsetting a fall in private sector wages, and when you cut education to compensate, it is net-net austerity.

    Well done! Yes, the food stamps are an excellent example of an automatic stabilizer which increases spending in response to an economic downturn. Cutting spending on education and parks worsens the downturn and causes the stabilizers to increase spending even more. Budget cuts can result in greater deficits.

  33. @john personna:

    See, you changing the argument here in order to confuse the issue. The question is whether or not the governments are engaged in austerity, not whether they’re being sufficiently stimulative to encourage growth. Whatever the merits of increased deficit spending would be, the fact is that the governments are not being austere by any reasonable definition of the word.

  34. al-Ameda says:

    Republicans are not serious about the deficit, they are however, very serious about their ideology.

    And how do we know this? A look at the Ryan Budget proposal tells you all you need to know.
    It will cut taxes, eviscerate social program spending and STILL end up with deficit spending near current levels.

    The Ryan plan proposes to cut the top marginal tax rate by 26% – from 34% to 25%, and while doing that it proposes to cut Medicaid, Pell Grants, Food Stamps and other programs that benefit middle and lower middle class Americans. It proposes to begin phasing in the privatization of Medicare, which will transfer enormous health insurance expenses onto retired Americans with fixed pension incomes. Ryan’s budget proposes no reduction in defense spending – neither actual reductions nor reduced rates of increase in such spending.

  35. Tsar Nicholas says:

    You lost me at: “[u]sing the election results in France and Greece as a starting point.”

    In France an incumbent presiding over a bad economy was voted out of office. Politics 101. The circumstances are not really analogous — here there’s no Le Pen equivalent — but that’s the whole point: there’s no real analogy to be drawn, other than the obvious.

    In Greece the incumbent ruling coalition presiding over a disastrous economy was voted out of office. Again, politics 101.

    You also have to get your terminology straight. The “austerity” in Greece included massive tax hikes in addition to massive spending cuts.

    The implication of that article and this blog post is that Greeks voted against spending cuts. That’s only part of the story. Certainly government workers there in large part voted against spending cuts. Others voted against the tax hikes. Others there were sophisticated enough to realize that they need to get out of the Euro to survive, despite the inflation threat attendant to devaluing a reinstated drachma, and that removing the prior coalition was the quickest way politically speaking for them to exit the Euro. Still others there would have voted against the incumbents simply because their personal situations are that of economic depression; they didn’t necessarily draw any conclusions about the specific causes.

    1+1 does not = 4.

    Moving along, regarding the putative optimism vs. pessimism dichotomy, how are they not flip sides of the same coin? Obama is the incumbent. As was Carter. Obviously to defeat an incumbent you have to tell voters that he’s done a crappy job. As Reagan did. “Are you better off than you were four years ago?” Was that a shiny, glowing example of optimism? Get real.

    What exactly should Romney do? “My fellow Americans, times are great and getting better each day, but they’ll be even better with me in office. We all have very bright futures that only will get brighter, but they’ll shine even more with new leadership.” Give me a break.

    Reading between the lines what becomes fairly clear is that this post and the underlying article are archetypal examples of that phenomenon so prevalent among the chattering classes, that Republicans can’t win for losing. No matter what they say or do it’ll be wrong. Attack the incumbent Democrat president on the horrible economy and they should stop that, dammit, because pessimism doesn’t win elections. Take a more egalitarian approach and, hell, they’re being disingenous pollyannas. Take a middle ground approach and they’re weak, bland and indecisive.

    Heads they lose, tails they lose.

  36. al-Ameda says:

    @Moosebreath:

    Austerity also isn’t a way to help the economy grow out of the recession, either. And yet conservatives world-wide keep saying it’s what we need. The example of how austerity has led to slower growth and double-dip recession throughout Europe seems lost on them.

    Austerity is analogous to medieval medicine – leeches and bloodletting to cure a a fever and a migraine headache – the cure has a greater probability of killing you than the flu.

  37. @Stormy Dragon:

    You can refer again to Wilkinson’s opening line. But you don’t really even need to do that.

    Any reduction in government sector spending is austerity, to a degree. A small decrease is a small austerity. A large decrease is austerity writ large.

    The most preposterous argument here is the one you made above, that a PPP adjusted decline in spending was “bogus” as proof of austerity.

    Seriously? Italy, Spain, and Greece had actual year over year declines. It was not simply deflection from trend.

    We have that much austerity staring us in the face. It only gets worse when you consider it in the context of automatic stabilizers, and those are even before you introduce the idea of stimulus.

    The UK and France are a different story, they have more or less continuation of trend, and for them it is more about the sectoral shifts. Those shifts are real, of course.

  38. @john personna:

    Any reduction in government sector spending is austerity, to a degree.

    No it’s not.

  39. Ben Wolf says:

    @Stormy Dragon: Then by how much should the British government cut to achieve austerity? I want numbers by percentage of GDP and absolute british pounds.

  40. Hey Norm says:

    At what point does Doug get voted off his own island?

  41. James says:

    @Stormy Dragon: Yes it is. Recall; spending = incomes.

  42. @Stormy Dragon:

    From this end, it is like you are arguing numbers with a “-” in front are not “negative.”

    And yes, this is particularly true in a recession with automatic expansions of the safety net.

    (I mean geez, what’s the converse clearly stated? That a government can cut spending, in face of higher unemployment, poverty, and public health expense, but we should NOT call that austerity until it reaches some arbitrary bound?)

  43. Hey Norm says:

    So OBL is dead, and GM isn’t.
    Romney thinks Obama shouldn’t get credit for OBL, and he (Romney) should get credit for GM.
    You can’t make it up…he really thinks Americans have no clue.
    How can you have a positive message when you are a condescending a$$?

  44. An Interested Party says:

    Something else that won’t win elections is libertarian gibberish, so while Doug complains about the President’s “class warfare”, the fact is that raising tax rates on the wealthy is quite popular, no matter how Doug wants to characterize that position…

  45. gVOR08 says:

    @Stormy Dragon: (and Jeremy) –

    IIRC Cowen put up that deRugy piece a little after midnight. By 9:00 Kevin Drum had debunked it pretty thoroughly.

  46. reid says:

    the similarities between the condition of America, and Americans, today and 1980 are fairly apparent

    I think that was much more true in 2008. Stupid wars, economy sinking into the toilet…. In fact, the hope and optimism thing is what won it, no?

  47. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @john personna: Doug is NOT INTERESTED in understanding. He’s become another drone for the pseudo conservatives.

  48. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @Ben Wolf: About Doug–WELL SAID!

  49. gVOR08 says:

    @Doug Mataconis: You and James have been asked several times why you support Republicans, although you seem to understand the failings of Republicans. (OK, you say you don’t support Republicans, so substitute “oppose Democrats”.) You’ve answered that question here, and I appreciate it. I take your answer to mean you don’t oppose Democrats, you oppose the Rove, Luntz, NRO, etc. parody of the “Democrat Party”. Still, I do appreciate the honest answer.

  50. anjin-san says:

    Interesting article in the WSJ – take away government layoffs & unemployment is 7.1:

    One reason the unemployment rate may have remained persistently high: The sharp cuts in state and local government spending in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, and the layoffs those cuts wrought.

    The Labor Department’s establishment survey of employers — the jobs count that it bases its payroll figures on — shows that the government has been steadily shedding workers since the crisis struck, with 586,000 fewer jobs than in December 2008. Friday’s employment report showed the cuts continued in April, with 15,000 government jobs lost.

    These guys are in the bag for Obama, right? Dame lamestream media…

    http://blogs.wsj.com/economics/2012/05/08/unemployment-rate-without-government-cuts-7-1/?KEYWORDS=unemployment

  51. walt moffett says:

    @anjin-san: Yet there seems little enthusiasm from those that matter for another round of state fiscal bail outs. Maybe a petition at whitehouse.gov might bring this to their attention.

    To the original point, the election is still young, Romney may remember how to catch flies but most likely will not.

  52. Hey Norm says:

    @ anjin-san….
    7.1 if government jobs were the same as ’08…
    If government jobs grew as they always do under Republicans it might be sub 7%.

  53. Hey Norm says:

    @ Walt…
    The white house has made a couple runs at state aid and been rebuffed by Republicans who for some reason think high UE is good for their political careers.
    Go figure.

  54. walt moffett says:

    @Hey Norm: Must be why its not on Obama’s Congress To Do List, its simply a task too hard and lets face it its not like the laid off public workers are going to vote R.

  55. André Kenji de Sousa says:

    “Austerity” and “tax cuts” can´t stand together on the same discourse! It´s insane to say that a party that´s opposed to ANY tax cuts is a party that defends austerity or fiscal responsibility.

  56. anjin-san says:

    Bloomberg reports that almost two-thirds of private-sector job growth in the past five decades came with Democrats in the White House.

    “The BGOV Barometer shows that since Democrat John F. Kennedy took office in January 1961, non-government payrolls in the U.S. swelled by almost 42 million jobs under Democrats, compared with 24 million for Republican presidents… Democrats hold the edge though they occupied the Oval Office for 23 years since Kennedy’s inauguration, compared with 28 for the Republicans.”

  57. Hey Norm says:
  58. superdestroyer says:

    I find it odd that people believe that an administration that believes that the U.S. is too incompetent to build a pipeline, high-tension power lines, nuclear power plant or operate a space program, a rare earth mine, or a refinery is an optomist.

    I find it odd that the party that is cutting lab science in high school to increase spending on remedial education is seen as the optomistic party.

    Why is the party that has added over 5 million people to the disability rolls in three years is seen as the optimistic party. When did higher taxes, bigger government, and a smaller private sector become the optimistic view?

  59. Hey Norm says:

    @ Superdestroyer…
    I find it hard to believe that after the BP spill, the collapse of the banking industry and the role that played in todays economy, Enron, and a bunch of dead coal miners, some people are still advocating for the elimination of regulation.

    “…When did higher taxes, bigger government, and a smaller private sector become the optimistic view?”

    I guess this is a veiled reference to Democrats…which is pretty f’ing funny because in the last 3 1/2 years taxes have been cut for a vast majority of people, government has shrunk, and the private sector is growing significantly. The facts just don’t match your ideology…again. Quelle suprise!!!

  60. Barry says:

    @Doug Mataconis: “No what they’re getting from him is class warfare and the glorification of an entitlement society.”

    Liar. Let’s start with this:

    http://www.businessweek.com/ap/2012-05/D9UK1QSO1.htm

    BTW, where are the Wall St guys in prison, if Obama’s waging class warfare.

  61. @Stormy Dragon:

    I am backed by no less authority than The Economist:

    And some, I’m somewhat stunned to find out, allege that there is no austerity. Veronique de Rugy posts a chart showing what appears to be just a tiny drop in spending across some euro-zone countries and no drop at all among others (Britain is thrown in, for good measure). Austerity is mostly a myth, she claims, and what austerity there has been has come from tax increases, which don’t count. No less an authority than Tyler Cowen quickly gloms on to the argument.

    This is nonsense, as a quick check of the data reveals

  62. Barry says:

    @john personna:

    The Economist? The cheerleaders for austerity?

  63. @Barry:

    This is not exactly cheerleading:

    The austerity is there. If it isn’t working out as many expected, that’s either because what they expected was unreasonable, or because the central bank isn’t doing its part.

  64. LaMont says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    Come on Doug – Seriously? Your comment sounds like something straight out of the Romney campaign. Defend youself man! I am actually interested to know why you feel tthe way you do. Heck, I can hear what you said almost every night on fox news!

  65. Barry says:
  66. john personna says:

    @Barry:

    The piece does not endorse “expansionary austerity,”and which was the original cheerleading. Do you remember The Economist promising expansion? Maybe a link would help me.

  67. superdestroyer says:

    @Hey Norm:

    All of the tax cuts have been temporary. The Democrats have been very open about wanting to raise taxes including new taxes on the rich along with letting all of temporary tax cuts expire. In addition, as shown in Wisconsin, Democrats want the public sector unions to be at the top of the economic pyramid.

    What are Democrats seen as optimistic when they push for a smaller private sector (fewer healthcare, defense, finance, and oil and gas workers), higher taxes, and the refusal to try to actually do anything.

    Why are Democrats seen as optimists when they push for high speed rail while arguing that Americans are to incompetent to build a pipeline?

  68. Barry says:

    @john personna: @john personna: Shorter Economist – Austerity can never fail; it can only be failed.