Sometimes I don’t understand Bruce Bartlett. I understand his critiques of Bush and the leftward drift of the Republican party under Bush. But when he makes comments like this, I am left with more questions than answers, he writes:
I have been saying for years, long before the recent economic crisis made matters much worse, that our looming fiscal problems, resulting mainly from the aging of society, were too great to be dealt with by the sorts of spending cuts that are even remotely realistic, politically.
I think those among my conservative and libertarian friends who think spending cuts of that magnitude — in the trillions of dollars per year going forward — are feasible are simply delusional, living in a dream world.
Therefore, higher taxes will be the default position when the crunch comes. But higher income tax rates necessary to stabilize our finances would be crippling, economically. Therefore, I have advocated a broad-based new consumption tax known as the value-added tax (VAT), which is how every other country finances its welfare state.
I get his point about the political difficulty of cutting spending. After all, any politician who wants to get reelected, remembered, and keep his party moving forward will not be able to cut spending in any substantial way – but wouldn’t that also be the case with tax increases?
If spending cuts are politically unfeasible, then why are tax increases not also politically unfeasible? In fact, in the United States, given our relatively conservative political inclinations, one can make an argument that spending cuts are slightly more politically feasible than tax increases.
So if both are politically disastrous, then why chose tax increases over spending cuts? How does that not make Bruce Bartlett a liberal, instead of the independent or even conservative he still claims to be. Only Bartlett knows, it seems.