Alan Greenspan, from deficit hawk to GOP hack.

Commentary about business and finance.
Nov. 21 2002 5:35 PM

The Maestro Is a Hack

How Alan Greenspan has become a Bush puppet.

(Continued from Page 1)

Today, spendthrift Republicans control both the House and Senate—on Meet the Press Nov. 10, Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott spoke blithely about passing a prescription drug benefit ($380 billion) and fixing the alternative minimum tax, which could take another few hundred billion. Sen. Don Nickles, an aficionado of "dynamic scoring" (the favored euphemism for supply-side economics), is replacing deficit hawk Sen. Pete Domenici at the helm of the Budget Committee. The White House, which has yet to veto a spending bill, believes that the answer to every economic woe is a tax cut. Nowhere in the precincts of power is there to be found a single voice for fiscal discipline, short-term or long-term. For that reason, alone, Greenspan should err on the side of fiscal caution rather than the side of fiscal hedonism.

Greenspan's critics have long suspected him of being a hard-core Republican ideologue. But during the '90s, when he seemed to work hand-in-glove with the Clinton administration, he morphed into an elder statesman, seemingly above politics and partisanship and above reproach. Now, however, the Maestro has become little more than a hand puppet of the Bush administration.

Perhaps he's trying to make amends for his reluctance to cut rates more quickly during the administration of Bush the Elder. "I reappointed him, and he disappointed me," Poppy famously said of Greenspan. Or it could be that the erstwhile deficit hawk simply shares President Bush's devil-may-care attitude about long-term fiscal policy. After all, neither will be in office when it's time to clean up the mess.

Daniel Gross is a longtime Slate contributor. His most recent book is Better, Stronger, Faster. Follow him on Twitter.

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