Just doing a little Sunday night news reading and ran across Clive Crook’s latest column in the Financial Times, in which he lambasts both Democrats and Republicans in the U.S. for not engaging in a more serious debate about future budgets.
In this space I have often criticised the Obama administration for failing to lead on US fiscal policy. Its recent budget, and the revised outline that instantly replaced it, were entirely unserious. Even now, the White House lacks a detailed proposal either for dealing with the immediate political challenge of raising the statutory debt ceiling and thus avoiding default – time for this runs out in a few more weeks – or for addressing the longer-term fiscal problem.
Then Crook says a couple nice things about Paul Ryan’s budget, but then:
Medicare will have to be reformed, and Mr Ryan’s plan is not without merit. Tweaked to provide, among other things, a more realistic rate of increase in the value of the voucher, it could be workable. But the striking thing is how few Republicans, having voted for his plan, are willing to defend it, or even mention it.
Crook then mocks Tim Pawlenty’s economic assumptions in his absurd budget:
One hopes that Mr Pawlenty, in proposing this idiotic farrago, is making a cynical tactical calculation: win over the Tea Party activists by outflanking everyone on the right – difficult as that may be – then come back to the centre once the nomination is won. But having put down markers such as these, travelling all the way back to the land of the sane may be impossible. In any event, if you hoped that the presidential contest might raise the quality of discussion about US fiscal options, read Mr Pawlenty’s speech and weep.