Voodoo economics 3.0

The numbers don’t add, and Bloomberg calls McCain on it.

Bloomberg does a job on McCain’s Voodoo Economics 3.0. Again, it’s couched in “objectivese”:

Some economists and analysts say his numbers don’t add up.

But they’ve got the numbers, and they catch McCain’s economic guru, Douglas Holtz-Eakin, with his analytical pants down, making him look like both a fool and a liar:

Two Washington research groups said McCain’s plan would cost more. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities estimated his tax cuts would cost $5 trillion over a two-term presidency. The Tax Policy Center, run jointly by the Brookings Institution and Urban Institute, said they would cost $5.7 trillion.

McCain senior economic adviser Douglas Holtz-Eakin dismissed such estimates as “fantasy-land budgeting.” McCain’s proposals, Holtz-Eakin said, would balance tax and spending cuts to meet his balanced-budget goals.

In an interview yesterday on Bloomberg Television’s Political Capital With Al Hunt, McCain said budget slashing is essential because “we Republicans presided over the largest increase in the size of government since the Great Society,” referring to a series of government entitlements, including Medicare, enacted in the 1960s.

To help pay for the tax cuts, Holtz-Eakin said, McCain would save $30 billion a year by eliminating so-called rifle shot provisions. Those include items such as tax breaks for small insurance companies.

But a Treasury Department report Holtz-Eakin cited as the source of his estimate states that $27 billion could be raised by eliminating narrowly used tax preferences spread over a decade, not a single year.

When asked about the discrepancy, Holtz-Eakin said that McCain would start with those provisions and target others like them to recover $30 billion annually.

The voters got fooled by this stuff when Reagan was pushing it, and again when Bush the Second was pushing it. Let’s hope that the third time is the charm. And let’s not forget that attacking McCain’s ideas is only half the battle. The key is to attack his character: it’s not just that the plan is bad, it’s that no competent and straight-talking person would even think of offering it. Robert Bixby of the Concord Coalition shows how it’s done:

Once, McCain was a deficit hawk, Bixby said, but “strange things happen when people run for president.”

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