Got to avoid raising taxes if we want the economy to grow and eventually balance the budget

Dan Mitchell on Austerity in Europe 2012

In order to balance the budget we must make deep cuts. Take a look at the study refers to below by Dan Mitchell of the Cato Institute in his fine article on the French mess. Raising taxes has not worked in the thirty countries studied.

Having written several times about crazy French statism, you will understand why I like this cartoon.

Though, to be fair, France hasn’t gotten to the point where it’s being bailed out (it’s probably just a matter of time).

If you want some good analysis of the situation in Europe, Veronique de Rugy of the Mercatus Center hits the nail on the head in her column in today’s Washington Examiner.

France has yet to cut spending. In fact, to the extent that the French are frustrated with “budget cuts,” it’s only because the increase in future spending won’t be as large as they had planned. The same can be said about the United Kingdom. Spain, Italy and Greece have had no choice to cut some spending. However, in the case of these particular countries, the cuts were implemented alongside large tax increases. …This approach to austerity, also known in the United States as the “balanced approach,” has unfortunately proven a recipe for disaster. In a 2009 paper, Harvard University’s Alberto Alesina and Silvia Ardagna looked at 107 attempts to reduce the ratio of debt to gross domestic product over 30 years in countries in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. They found fiscal adjustments consisting of both tax increases and spending cuts generally failed to stabilize the debt and were also more likely to cause economic contractions. On the other hand, successful austerity packages resulted from making spending cuts without tax increases. They also found this form of austerity is more likely associated with economic expansion rather than with recession. …While the debate over austerity continues, the evidence seems to point to the conclusion that austerity can be successful, if it isn’t modeled after the “balanced approach.” It’s a lesson for the French and other European countries, as well as for American lawmakers who often seem tempted by the lure of closing budget gaps with higher taxes.

This is similar to my recent analysis, and Veronique also is kind enough to cite my analysis of how the Baltic nations have done the right thing and cut spending.

There are obvious lessons from Europe for the United States. If politicians don’t reform entitlement programs, we’re doomed to have our own fiscal crisis at some point in the not-too-distant future.

Only there won’t be anybody there to bail us out.

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