Thursday, October 09, 2008

Bridge to McNowhere 

Eric Alterman (The Nation):
During the 1980 presidential campaign, Republicans latched onto a theory that enjoyed virtually no support among professional economists: so-called "supply-side" economics. Its promoters were a discredited economist named Arthur Laffer and a self-described "wild man" editorialist at the Wall Street Journal named Jude Wanniski. Laffer had drawn up the doctrine on the back of a napkin, and Wanniski promoted it in the Journal's editorial pages before selling it to Jack Kemp, who made it a condition of his withdrawal from the Republican race that the nominee, Ronald Reagan, embrace it as well. Other than in a few Journal editorials, the only discussion of this notion occurred in two pieces published in the neoconservative policy journal The Public Interest, co-edited by Irving Kristol; one was by Wanniski, the other by Kemp aide Paul Craig Roberts. Before Wanniski's "The Mundell-Laffer Hypothesis: A New View of the World Economy" appeared there, neither Laffer nor Robert Mundell, a Canadian economist who had influenced Laffer, was even aware that they had fashioned a "hypothesis" together. Next thing you knew, Reagan was president, supply-side was in place and government deficits took off for outer space.


McCain and Palin are losing to Obama and Biden, thank God. But even the possibility that the most powerful nation on earth is in danger of electing yet another president characterized by dishonesty, belligerence, ideological obsession and personal recklessness--coupled with a vice president whose life experience makes her more appropriate for a casting session of Desperate Housewives than a cabinet meeting--gives one pause when considering the future of this country, regardless of whether we manage to avoid this catastrophe on election day. If providence smiles upon us, and working-class whites in Ohio, Michigan and Virginia are willing to help elect America's first nonwhite president--a brilliant and inspiring one at that--then perhaps we can skip the tragedy this time around. Lord knows, we are already living the farce.

Read in full: Reality Bites


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