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07/16/2009

“At a time like this”

Kevin Drum does a righteous smackdown of Bryan Caplan for arguing that we should oppose the House health reform bill because it would raise taxes in the midst of a recession. As Kevin points out, the provisions wouldn’t take effect for several years; it takes real chutzpah, given that obvious point, for Caplan to accuse me of being disingenuous.

Actually, it’s even worse: Caplan frames the argument in terms of the nasty effects of raising labor costs. Um, we have a problem with demand, not supply; time to reread Keynes on wages.

Kevin also mentions similar arguments being made against climate-change policy. Indeed: it’s really sad to see Martin Feldstein arguing that Waxman-Markey amounts to a tax increase in the face of a recession, using numbers that, aside from being misleading, refer to the projected impact of the bill in — wait for it — 2020.

What’s striking here is the cynicism. Feldstein, in particular, is surely a good enough economist to know better. But he and Caplan and others are prepared to grab any argument they can to block progressive reform.


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