Just Give It Up and Embrace Keynes Already Just Give It Up and Embrace Keynes Already

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
May 25 2012 1:42 PM

Just Give It Up and Embrace Keynes Already  

Why is the Obama campaign claiming that government spending hasn't increased dramatically since January 2009? Glenn Kessler slices it into chunks here, but the way Jay Carney brought it up was plenty revealing. At the press gaggle on Wednesday, Carney joked that the press was "wooly-headed" and he had something to hand-feed them. He read the nut graf of Rex Nuttig article at Marketwatch and then added his scattered thoughts.

David Weigel David Weigel

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

CARNEY: That means that the rate of spending -- federal spending increase is lower under President Obama than all of his predecessors since Dwight Eisenhower, including all of his Republican predecessors. That is a fact not often noted in the press and certainly never mentioned by the Republicans. 
REPORTER: You're emulating Herbert Hoover now as a standard --
CARNEY: Not at all.
Advertisement

He wasn't. He was trying to emulate FDR in 1937, who was just as wrong. The argument Carney is trying to make is that the Obama administration is not obsessed with demand-side spending. Forget about the stimulus, which is unpopular. This White House is trying to cut back spending.

The argument is 1) unwinnable and 2) not worth winning. During the 2008 campaign Obama argued that he'd "cut the deficit in half" in his first term. He obviously didn't, and Mitt Romney can say this as often as he likes. And liberal economists -- some of whom work for the White House -- remember that the point of running up a deficit on non-defense discretionary spending and tax cuts was to stimulate the economy.

These people are Keynesians. Why can't they say so?

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

TODAY IN SLATE

Foreigners

More Than Scottish Pride

Scotland’s referendum isn’t about nationalism. It’s about a system that failed, and a new generation looking to take a chance on itself. 

What Charles Barkley Gets Wrong About Corporal Punishment and Black Culture

Why Greenland’s “Dark Snow” Should Worry You

Three Talented Actresses in Three Terrible New Shows

Why Do Some People See the Virgin Mary in Grilled Cheese?

The science that explains the human need to find meaning in coincidences.

Jurisprudence

Happy Constitution Day!

Too bad it’s almost certainly unconstitutional.

Is It Worth Paying Full Price for the iPhone 6 to Keep Your Unlimited Data Plan? We Crunch the Numbers.

What to Do if You Literally Get a Bug in Your Ear

  News & Politics
Weigel
Sept. 16 2014 7:03 PM Kansas Secretary of State Loses Battle to Protect Senator From Tough Race
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 16 2014 4:16 PM The iPhone 6 Marks a Fresh Chance for Wireless Carriers to Kill Your Unlimited Data
  Life
The Eye
Sept. 16 2014 12:20 PM These Outdoor Cat Shelters Have More Style Than the Average Home
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 15 2014 3:31 PM My Year As an Abortion Doula
  Slate Plus
Slate Plus Video
Sept. 16 2014 2:06 PM A Farewell From Emily Bazelon The former senior editor talks about her very first Slate pitch and says goodbye to the magazine.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 16 2014 8:43 PM This 17-Minute Tribute to David Fincher Is the Perfect Preparation for Gone Girl
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 16 2014 6:40 PM This iPhone 6 Feature Will Change Weather Forecasting
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Sept. 16 2014 11:46 PM The Scariest Campfire Story More horrifying than bears, snakes, or hook-handed killers.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 15 2014 9:05 PM Giving Up on Goodell How the NFL lost the trust of its most loyal reporters.