Can Berkeley be bought?

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Feb. 21 2003 1:53 PM

Can Berkeley Be Bought?

The Fray weighs in on the budget.

El presupuesto gordo: More people than you might think concur with Michael Kinsley that the Republicans are no longer the party of fiscal responsibility and that the "starve the beast" argument is craven. As GarySimpson puts it:

This is a dark day. I find myself in general agreement with not one but two Liberals.

(The other liberal is Al Hunt.) But piling on is boring, and can quickly get out of hand. Who will defend the Bush administration?BenK tries here; he needs responses. There are two potential kinds of defenders I can see. First, Keynesians. In "The Danger of Shooting Fish in a Barrel" The_Bell points out that one side's craven is the other side's longstanding economic theory:

Democrats DO like big government, they DO believe in government spending as means to cure many ills. They even believe deficits are appropriate in certain economic situations - such as the one we are in right now - to stimulate consumption. Are we to believe that Mr. Kinsley's attack on the Bush Administration's spendthrift ways, his outrage over the perils of paying back interest on debt mean that the Democrats have renounced Keynes?

The responses have been excellent. Keith_M_Ellis contends that many Democrats have renounced Keynes. True enough. Are there any Keynesian Democrats who will defend the Bush Administration's deficits, even backhandedly, like this? (In another post, Keith_M_Ellis goes to the numbers to show that (by his reckoning) only 1/3 of the projected $300 billion deficit is directly Bush's fault.)

What will happen when the austerity phase kicks in? The_Slasher-8 thinks Republicans will look to Social Security cuts. Or as semperpenalcolony puts it here:

The George W. diet has two objectives:

1. Get re-elected.
2. Force a Social Security/Medicare "crisis" that will panic the public to support GWB's goal of privatizing both.

Thus the second potential group of deficit defenders are Social Security privatizers …

Trading the line-item veto for the scratch-off ticket: Within the reportorial glee surrounding the prospect of legions of Republican governors raising taxes, Jack Shafer sees an underlying reluctance to ask how states got in their collective mess. His budgetary parable goes like this:

Rather than placing a cap on spending in the face of budgetary surpluses, the states acted as if they had won the lottery. They added new programs and expanded existing ones. They hired more employees. And then came the Judgment Day of the crash.

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