Is There a Democratic Economics?

Yes, there is a Democratic economics. What remains to be seen is whether there is a Democratic politics. The real economic issue is not the current recession, but fifteen years of invisible depression. That should be the focus of the reframed debate. A steady erosion of living standards for wage and salary earners suggests a very different construction of the problem, different remedies, and a far superior politics.

At this writing, George Bush is at last reaping the consequences of eleven years of wrong-headed economic policy. He, and we, face an improbable economic bind, in which annual deficits of $300 billion are necessary for the economy merely to tread water. For Bush to propose capital gains cuts as a remedy is not only bad economics; as politics it plays into the Democrats' hands. Add to this the shaky condition of banks and real estate markets, the visible decay of public services and infrastructure, the richly deserved voter skepticism about various experiments in deregulation, the consumer worries about further declines in living standards, and you have a situation ready made for an opposition program.

That is the good news. The problem, of course, is that the very same economic deadlock tends to paralyze the opposition imagination. Presumably, fiscal policy is inoperative because of the deficits; monetary policy

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