Monday, June 12, 2006

Real Conservatives ♥ Tax Hikes

Jonathan Chait explains in The Los Angeles Times why real fiscal conservatives love tax hikes— they make government programs more expensive, so the public will want less of them. He then proceeds to wonder why Republicans continue to believe in the "starve the beast" theory of reducing the size of government, when it's obviously total bullshit.
A FEW WEEKS ago, I wrote a column about a paper that decimated the conservative worldview. The study, by William Niskanen of the Cato Institute, found that the conservative "starve the beast" strategy does not work. Indeed, since 1981, he found that tax cuts tend to produce more spending, while tax hikes produce less.

I wrote that it would be interesting to see how conservatives reacted to having the factual basis for their entire domestic strategy exposed as a fraud. And it is interesting because "starve the beast" is so central to the GOP approach to governing and because the reaction is a case study in how the conservative movement reacts when its views are disproved.

Well, the right has had sufficient time to formulate its response. The results aren't very impressive.

Out of the reams of conservative commentary published over the last month, I have found exactly two items reacting to Niskanen's research. Given his paper's devastating implications, the response is quantitatively — and qualitatively — pathetic.

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