THOSE WHO IGNORE HISTORY ARE DOOMED TO NOT DISCREDIT IT. I'm going to go ahead and disagree with Matt's admonition to leave the last 30 years alone when arguing economics. I certainly agree that liberal policies shouldn't be sold on a platform of "your life sucks," but certain strains of recurrently ascendant conservative policy-making do need to be discredited, and there are few ways to do that without going to the tape. That's not to say, of course, that we're not better off than we were 30 years ago. We are. But our growth is being shared less and less equally, and our economy is ever more oriented towards facilitating remarkable success for the lucky few. Every time we elect a serious conservative, the deficit explodes and some hapless sap needs to painstakingly put it back together a couple years later. Large negative income shocks are far more frequent, upward mobility is significantly less common, and recoveries aren't producing anywhere near the growth in median household wages that we'd expect.
Of course, the President's policies have only a moderate impact on the economy. And America remains rich, powerful, innovative, educated, and vibrant. We've grown and we've improved. But conservative policies have begun reshaping our economy on the margins, narrowing growth and heightening inequality. It's one thing to say liberal economic policies will make folks better off. It's true, but that's a smaller appeal than one might really hope. After all, most Americans have health care, have pensions, have jobs. More important than hypothetical programs is our economic vision -- what sort of economy we want, and what principles will guide our reactions to market fluctuations. And to explain that, we need to contrast ourselves with the bulk of economic policy-making over the last 30 years. And that starts with understanding what's happened over the last 30 years. Which is why everyone should read Brad DeLong's post in full. It's by far the most worthwhile ten minutes you'll spend on a blog today.
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