Stop the presses! The OMB director tells the truth!

Mitch Daniels says “deficits may continue into the next decade.” Mickey Kaus seems to be surprised, and not at all pleased. (He holds out some hope that the Washington Times got it wrong, but here’s the same story, with more detail, from the New York Times.

Most of my fellow left-bloggers seem to froth at the mouth at the mention of Kaus’s name, and I’m sure his sudden discovery that the Bush Adminstration is terminally fiscally irresponsible will lead various of my friends to nominate him for the covted Claude Raines Award given out by Sisyphus Shrugged. [See the Daily Kos, for example.] After all, Paul Krugman, whom Kaus never tires of vilifying, and Brad DeLong, whom he has treated only somewhat less shabbily, have been telling us for a long time exactly what Daniels just said: the numbers never added up, and if the last round of tax cuts becomes permanent (forget about the next round) so will the red ink.

The goal of the Bush tax cuts was, and is, to bankrupt the federal government, in order to make domestic initiatives impossible and to force a butchering of Medicare and Social Security when the boomers retire. It’s exactly the Reagan plan, as revealed in David Stockman’s book.

But the fact that you and I wasn’t surprised doesn’t mean that Mickey’s surprise and dismay aren’t real. Indeed, I’m convinced that they are completely genuine. Having developed a thorough loathing for some of the current and recent leaders and power groups within the Democratic party (way out of proportion, in my view, but not by any means incomprehensible), he had a desperate desire to believe that Bush wouldn’t be, and wasn’t being, a complete and utter disaster. I recall being able to convince myself in 1976 that Jimmy Carter wouldn’t be a complete and utter disaster, so I know how he feels.

If the latest revelation, and a few more like it, eventually convince him otherwise, I for one will welcome him back to the ranks of the neoliberals. I sometimes think that James Carville and I are the only two Democrats left with the inborn viciousness that serves Republicans so well, and I’d love to bring that number up to three by getting Mickey’s marvelously poisonous pen working for our side.

[And when Glenn Reynolds discovers that Bush is attacking Iraq instead of taking on Saudi Arabia, as opposed to attacking Iraq as preparation for taking on Saudi Arabia, and figures out that, while most Democrats take anti-libertarian positions with some discomfort, and largely out of perceived political necessity, the current Republican crew is deeply and abidingly anti-libertarian in the personal sphere and not really opposed to corporatism in the economic sphere, I’ll be happy to welcome him as well. The political equivalent of “First do no harm” is “Throw the rascals out,” and anyone who notices that the current crew is a bunch of rascals is welcome to join the tossing bee.]

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com