Stimulus Now, Cuts Later

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I don't know if the slogan I would choose for these ideas would be "Jobs Now, Deficits Soon" -- we already have deficits, don't we? -- but Matt Miller makes some good suggestions for combining short-term stimulus with longer-term fiscal control.

Miller's public finance appeals to me. His political analysis is not very even-handed, though. Lamenting that nothing can come of his suggestions, he says:

Republicans are content to glide toward November slamming Democrats without offering answers of their own. Democrats who now know the first stimulus was too puny feel they'll be clobbered for trying more in the Tea Party era.

That is, Republicans are cynical and irresponsible, whereas Democrats are wise but outnumbered. As I said before, the mistake Democrats are making is to dismiss justified concerns about the long-term problem. It's worse than dismiss; they express contempt for those concerns. They are no more proposing "stimulus now, cuts later" -- is that a better slogan? -- than the Republicans. Just as much as the other side, Democrats are failing to offer "answers of their own".

Miller endorses, among other things, David Brooks's suggestion that further help for the states could be made conditional on public-sector pension reform. That is indeed a good idea. Name me a Democrat in Congress who agrees.

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Clive Crook is a senior editor of The Atlantic and a columnist for Bloomberg View. He was the Washington columnist for the Financial Times, and before that worked at The Economist for more than 20 years, including 11 years as deputy editor. Crook writes about the intersection of politics and economics. More

Crook writes about the intersection of politics and economics.

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