Dan Mitchell: Krugman’s Anemic Defense of Bidenomics

Krugman’s Anemic Defense of Bidenomics

Over the past few months, I’ve written a 7-part series on Bidenomics, reviewing the president’s record on issues such as subsidies, inflation, protectionism, household income, fiscal policy, red tape, and employment.

Regarding the last item, a big problem is that the share of the population with jobs (measured by either the labor-force participation rate or the employment-population ratio) has not recovered.

It hasn’t recovered to where it was before the pandemic and it hasn’t recovered to where it was before Obama took office.

That’s bad news. Our economy’s output (and our national income) depends on the quantity and quality of both labor and capital.

This does not reflect well on Biden.

But not everyone agrees. Paul Krugman has leapt to the President’s defense. He even claims that American workers are enjoying a “Biden boom.”

President Biden has presided over a huge employment boom… Bidenomics has been good for American workers, whether they know it or not. …Haven’t they seen the purchasing power of their wages fall, thanks to inflation? The answer is yes, but. …that decline was entirely caused by rising prices for food and energy, which have a lot to do with global forces and little, if anything, to do with U.S. policy… If you want to assess the impacts of Bidenomics on wages, you should probably compare wages with prices excluding food and energy. And on that basis, real wages have basically been flat since Biden took office. …So, yes, the Biden boom has been good for workers.

The most shocking part of the column is that Krugman never addresses the problem of missing workers.

I’m not joking. You can read his entire article and you won’t find anything about the labor-force participation rate or the employment-population ratio.

He does mention the number of people working and wants us to believe those numbers are a cause for celebration, but even he felt the need to acknowledge that, “the job gains under Biden probably reflected a natural recovery from lockdowns.”

And I think it’s worth noting that we have 4 million fewer jobs than Biden claimed we would have if his so-called stimulus scheme was approved.

In other words, the president’s policies almost certainly have hindered the natural recovery that should have occurred.

Now let’s tackle the issue of inflation-adjusted wages for the people who do have jobs.

Krugman claims that workers have enjoyed a “boom” because “real wages have basically been flat.”

But even that claim is only possible if you ignore what’s happened to prices for food and energy.

Call me crazy, but this is the economic equivalent of “Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how was the play?”

The bottom line if that inflation-adjusted wages have been falling during Biden’s tenure.

I’ll conclude by noting that Krugman could have written a column blaming the Fed for the weak employment data. That would have been legitimate.

And he could have written a column arguing that Trump had the same big-spending policies when he was in office. That also would have been legitimate.

Instead, he wrote a column that may be even more of a joke than his “exploding cigar” about Estonia.

The Depressing Reincarnation of Build Back Better

One of the best things about 2021 was the fact that Congress did not approve Joe Biden’s economically debilitating plan to raise taxes and expand the welfare state.

His so-called Build Back Better plan was a very bad mix of class-warfare tax policy and redistributionist spending policy.

But one of the worst things about 2022 may be the reincarnation of a slimmed-down version of Biden’s plan.

Simply stated, the “slimmed-down version” of a terrible piece of legislation is bad news – even if it is possible to envision something even worse.

The Wall Street Journal‘s editorial on the package illustrates why it is bad news that Senator Joe Manchin is trying to rescue Biden’s statist agenda.

As the economy slouches near recession, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin…unveiled a tax-and-spending deal that they call the Inflation Reduction Act.Is their aim to reduce inflation by chilling business investment and the economy? …A more accurate name would be the Business Investment Reduction and Distortion Act since that will be the result of its $433 billion in climate and healthcare spending, and $615 billion in new taxes and drug price-control “savings.”

The editorial highlights four terrible provisions.

First, there’s a big tax hike on American companies, with the biggest tax hike on firms that make new investments.

…the 15% minimum tax on corporate book income…will slam businesses whose taxable income is lower than the profits on their financial statements owing to the likes of investment expensing.

For all intents and purposes, politicians would be creating a second type of corporate income tax.

Heavy compliance costs for the business community, of course, but the rest of us probably care more about the estimated loss of 218,000 jobs according to the National Association of Manufacturers.

Second, there are corrupt “green energy” provisions that will degrade America’s energy efficiency and security.

…the bill’s $369 billion in climate spending, most of which is corporate welfare. …All of this will steer private investment into green energy at the cost of reduced investment in fossil fuels. Wind and solar subsidies are already creating distortions in power markets that make the electric grid less reliable and energy more expensive. The expansion of subsidies will compound these problems.

If you want to know why this is bad, just remember Solyndra.

Third, the legislation imposes back-door price controls on the pharmaceutical industry.

The bill will require the Health and Human Services Secretary to “negotiate” Medicare prices—i.e., impose price controls—for dozens of drugs. But the $288 billion in putative savings are fanciful. Manufacturers will hedge potential future losses by launching drugs at higher prices. …The bill will also discourage investment in innovative treatments that could reduce future healthcare spending.

For those of us who value the development of new drugs to fight problems like cancer and Alzheimer’s, this is very bad news.

Fourth, a very corrupt internal revenue service is rewarded for its bad behavior.

Speculative revenue of $124 billion will also come from an $80 billion boost for the IRS. Most of this will finance more audits. The rich can afford more tax lawyers, but middle and upper-middle class Americans will be inclined to settle IRS claims, however meritless, lest they spend even more to defend themselves.

P.S. I can’t resist sharing one final bit of information.

If you peruse the Joint Committee on Taxation’s analysis of the bill, you’ll find that Joe Biden is breaking his promise not to raise taxes on people making less than $400,000 per year.

Not that anyone should be shocked. I have repeatedly explained that the big spenders need to pillage lower-income and middle-class household if they want to finance bigger government.

Open letter to President Obama (Part 644)

(Emailed to White House on 6-10-13.)

President Obama c/o The White House 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President,

I know that you receive 20,000 letters a day and that you actually read 10 of them every day. I really do respect you for trying to get a pulse on what is going on out here.

The federal government debt is growing so much that it is endangering us because if things keep going like they are now we will not have any money left for the national defense because we are so far in debt as a nation. We have been spending so much on our welfare state through food stamps and other programs that I am worrying that many of our citizens are becoming more dependent on government and in many cases they are losing their incentive to work hard because of the welfare trap the government has put in place. Other nations in Europe have gone down this road and we see what mess this has gotten them in. People really are losing their faith in big government and they want more liberty back. It seems to me we have to get back to the founding  principles that made our country great.  We also need to realize that a big government will encourage waste and corruption. The recent scandals in our government have proved my point. In fact, the jokes you made at Ohio State about possibly auditing them are not so funny now that reality shows how the IRS was acting more like a monster out of control. Also raising taxes on the job creators is a very bad idea too. The Laffer Curve clearly demonstrates that when the tax rates are raised many individuals will move their investments to places where they will not get taxed as much.

______________________

We can fix the IRS problem by going to the flat tax and lowering the size of government.

Did President Obama and his team of Chicago cronies deliberately target the Tea Party in hopes of thwarting free speech and political participation?

Was this part of a campaign to win the 2012 election by suppressing Republican votes?

Perhaps, but I’ve warned that it’s never a good idea to assume top-down conspiracies when corruption, incompetence, politics, ideology, greed, and self-interest are better explanations for what happens in Washington.

Writing for the Washington Examiner, Tim Carney has a much more sober and realistic explanation of what happened at the IRS.

If you take a group of Democrats who are also unionized government employees, and put them in charge of policing political speech, it doesn’t matter how professional and well-intentioned they are. The result will be much like the debacle in the Cincinnati office of the IRS. …there’s no reason to even posit evil intent by the IRS officials who formulated, approved or executed the inappropriate guidelines for picking groups to scrutinize most closely. …The public servants figuring out which groups qualified for 501(c)4 “social welfare” non-profit status were mostly Democrats surrounded by mostly Democrats. …In the 2012 election, every donation traceable to this office went to President Obama or liberal Sen. Sherrod Brown. This is an environment where even those trying to be fair could develop a disproportionate distrust of the Tea Party. One IRS worker — a member of NTEU and contributor to its PAC, which gives 96 percent of its money to Democratic candidates — explained it this way: “The reason NTEU mostly supports Democratic candidates for office is because Democratic candidates are mostly more supportive of civil servants/government employees.”

Tim concludes with a wise observation.

As long as we have a civil service workforce that leans Left, and as long as we have an income tax system that requires the IRS to police political speech, conservative groups can always expect special IRS scrutiny.

And my colleague Doug Bandow, in an article for the American Spectator, adds his sage analysis.

The real issue is the expansive, expensive bureaucratic state and its inherent threat to any system of limited government, rule of law, and individual liberty. …the broader the government’s authority, the greater its need for revenue, the wider its enforcement power, the more expansive the bureaucracy’s discretion, the increasingly important the battle for political control, and the more bitter the partisan fight, the more likely government officials will abuse their positions, violate rules, laws, and Constitution, and sacrifice people’s liberties. The blame falls squarely on Congress, not the IRS.

I actually think he is letting the IRS off the hook too easily.

But Doug’s overall point obviously is true.

…the denizens of Capitol Hill also have created a tax code marked by outrageous complexity, special interest electioneering, and systematic social engineering. Legislators have intentionally created avenues for tax avoidance to win votes, and then complained about widespread tax avoidance to win votes.

So what’s the answer?

The most obvious response to the scandal — beyond punishing anyone who violated the law — is tax reform. Implement a flat tax and you’d still have an IRS, but the income tax would be less complex, there would be fewer “preferences” for the agency to police, and rates would be lower, leaving taxpayers with less incentive for aggressive tax avoidance. …Failing to address the broader underlying factors also would merely set the stage for a repeat performance in some form a few years hence. …More fundamentally, government, and especially the national government, should do less. Efficient social engineering may be slightly better than inefficient social engineering, but no social engineering would be far better.

Amen. Let’s rip out the internal revenue code and replace it with a simple and fair flat tax.

But here’s the challenge. We know the solution, but it will be almost impossible to implement good policy unless we figure out some way to restrain the spending side of the fiscal ledger.

___________________________

At the risk of over-simplifying, we will never get tax reform unless we figure out how to implement entitlement reform.

Here’s another Foden cartoon, which I like because it has the same theme asthis Jerry Holbert cartoon, showing big government as a destructive and malicious force.

IRS Cartoon 5

_____________

Thank you so much for your time. I know how valuable it is. I also appreciate the fine family that you have and your commitment as a father and a husband.

Sincerely,

Everette Hatcher III, 13900 Cottontail Lane, Alexander, AR 72002, ph 501-920-5733, lowcostsqueegees@yahoo.com

Related Posts:

We know the IRS commissioner wasn’t telling the truth in March 2012, when he testified: “There’s absolutely no targeting.”

We know the IRS commissioner wasn’t telling the truth in March 2012, when he testified: “There’s absolutely no targeting.”However, Lois Lerner knew different when she misled people with those words. Two important points made by Noonan in the Wall Street Journal in the article below: First, only conservative groups were targeted in this scandal by […]

A great cartoonist takes on the IRS!!!!

Ohio Liberty Coalition versus the I.R.S. (Tom Zawistowski) Published on May 20, 2013 The Ohio Liberty Coalition was among tea party groups that received special scrutiny from the I.R.S. Tom Zawistowski says his story is not unique. He argues the kinds of questions the I.R.S. asked his group amounts to little more than “opposition research.” Video […]

“Schaeffer Sundays” Francis Schaeffer’s own words concerning what the First Amendment means

Francis Schaeffer: “Whatever Happened to the Human Race?” (Episode 2) SLAUGHTER OF THE INNOCENTS Published on Oct 6, 2012 by AdamMetropolis The 45 minute video above is from the film series created from Francis Schaeffer’s book “Whatever Happened to the Human Race?” with Dr. C. Everett Koop. This book  really helped develop my political views concerning […]

Cartoonists show how stupid the IRS is acting!!!

We got to lower the size of government so we don’t have these abuses like this in the IRS. Cartoonists v. the IRS May 23, 2013 by Dan Mitchell Call me perverse, but I’m enjoying this IRS scandal. It’s good to see them suffer a tiny fraction of the agony they impose on the American people. I’ve already […]

Dear Senator Pryor, why not pass the Balanced Budget Amendment? (“Thirsty Thursday”, Open letter to Senator Pryor)

Dear Senator Pryor, Why not pass the Balanced  Budget Amendment? As you know that federal deficit is at all time high (1.6 trillion deficit with revenues of 2.2 trillion and spending at 3.8 trillion). On my blog http://www.HaltingArkansasLiberalswithTruth.com I took you at your word and sent you over 100 emails with specific spending cut ideas. However, […]

Video from Cato Institute on IRS Scandal

Is the irs out of control? Here is the link from cato: MAY 22, 2013 8:47AM Can You Vague That Up for Me? By TREVOR BURRUS SHARE As the IRS scandal thickens, targeted groups are coming out to describe their ordeals in dealing with that most-reviled of government agencies. The Ohio Liberty Coalition was one of […]

IRS cartoons from Dan Mitchell’s blog

Get Ready to Be Reamed May 17, 2013 by Dan Mitchell With so many scandals percolating, there are lots of good cartoons being produced. But I think this Chip Bok gem deserves special praise. It manages to weave together both the costly Obamacare boondoggle with the reprehensible politicization of the IRS. So BOHICA, my friends. If […]

Obama jokes about audit of Ohio St by IRS then IRS scandal breaks!!!!!

You want to talk about irony then look at President Obama’s speech a few days ago when he joked about a potential audit of Ohio St by the IRS then a few days later the IRS scandal breaks!!!! The I.R.S. Abusing Americans Is Nothing New Published on May 15, 2013 The I.R.S. targeting of tea party […]

Dear Senator Pryor, why not pass the Balanced Budget Amendment? (“Thirsty Thursday”, Open letter to Senator Pryor)

Dear Senator Pryor, Why not pass the Balanced  Budget Amendment? As you know that federal deficit is at all time high (1.6 trillion deficit with revenues of 2.2 trillion and spending at 3.8 trillion). On my blog http://www.HaltingArkansasLiberalswithTruth.com I took you at your word and sent you over 100 emails with specific spending cut ideas. However, […]

We could put in a flat tax and it would enable us to cut billions out of the IRS budget!!!!

We could put in a flat tax and it would enable us to cut billions out of the IRS budget!!!! May 14, 2013 2:34PM IRS Budget Soars By Chris Edwards Share The revelations of IRS officials targeting conservative and libertarian groups suggest that now is a good time for lawmakers to review a broad range […]

By Everette Hatcher III | Posted in Taxes | Edit | Comments (0)
Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

Comments

  • tell U.A. to (be kind?) TO WHO? THE FOOLISH KID WHOSE PILITICAL WHIM OF GETTIN U.S. out of eraq; leaving dozen’s of American’s to be murdered and American women to be raped and sodimized by terrorist’s? That ptesident? Sorry… no go.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: