Mitt Romney’s selection of Paul Ryan has accomplished something quite important. At both conventions, in the corner rooms of Charlotte and Tampa organized by media groups and political activist outfits, serious discussions unfolded about the real state of the economy and the different policy approaches Americans needed to consider.
Paul Ryan is the most ideologically severe vice-presidential candidate in a century, a commentator said at a National Journal/Atlantic economic policy dinner done on a not-for-attribution basis. But nearly everyone credits his selection with igniting a debate about tough choices on the economy that politicians and Presidents have been ducking for decades. The clear consensus emerging out of Tampa’s GOP Convention and the DNC’s in Charlotte is that there is a real choice being offered to Americans. The first option is “rigorous austerity” that could even further gut America’s middle class and take the fallen standard of living to new lows. The second is a limited Keynesian approach that tries to reform while slashing spending.
There are also a couple of themes that aren’t getting much air time but which deserve to be kicked around.
One of these, a charge leveled by Democrats about themselves, is that the Democrats have really screwed up–twice. The argument goes like this: Back in the 90s while the economy was expanding, the IT bubble was bubbling, and capital gains churning was filling federal and state coffers, Clinton–guided primarily by his economic mentor and Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin–helped ignite a financial-sector privileged wealth production machine that didn’t take into account the long-term consequences of American manufacturing decamping to foreign shores.
In other words, Clinton pushed the Uruguay Round of GATT, set up China’s membership in the WTO, and removed the important barriers that divided retail banking from securities trading. Clinton was highly influenced by the economic policy practitioners on his team who carried with them all of the biases of neoliberal economics. Those who focused on the importance of manufacturing, of the role of government in seeing to the parts of the economic environment markets would not sustain, the importance of high-wage job creation, were pushed aside.
This is also exactly what happened during the first two years of the Obama administration, where those of a neoliberal persuasion prevailed over those who wanted to concentrate first on a serious jobs and infrastructure program.
See the article here:
Better Off than Four Years Ago?