Stockman v. Greenspan, three rounds, bare-knuckled

by Dave Weigel

The former OMB director best remembered now as a slash-and-burn critic of Republican economics talks to Lloyd Grove and... well, try not to be shocked.

Stockman was an economic superstar on a par with former Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan.  The previous day at the Aspen Ideas Festival, he had used a luncheon to grill his former mentor, who had employed him as a student policy trainee in the Ford White House. “Alan, a long time ago, when I didn’t know anything, you taught me four things,” Stockman informed his ex-boss, who had a wry smile plastered on his otherwise poker face. “One, lower tax rates are better than higher; solvency is better than insolvency; in the long run the budget has to be balanced; and the way you do it is cut spending structurally over time. Thirty years later we didn’t follow those principles. We now have massive debt and, in that 30 years, the Republican Party had an opportunity to stand up and be counted on spending cuts and never did.” Stockman demanded:  “Would you be willing to tell them, ‘Game over! You had 30 years. Now sit down and let taxes be raised so we can avoid insolvency?’

Stockman wants Republicans to win Congress and "reform entitlements and cut spending." Sounds great! I wonder if the best way to open the conversation is over coffee in Aspen, and I wonder if Stockman can do it at all. His credibly with conservatives is about as high as Dick Morris's with Democrats. But picking apart Alan Greenspan's record here is good work, no matter who does it and where it happens.