Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Shifting Economics

A quick post for this morning...

I once argued that one of the reasons President Bush would eventually go down as one of the most effectual Presidents in history was because of economic policy. Unfortunately, since that point, he has been unable to push most of the points that most people were arguing for at the time, such as revamping Social Security, but he has successfully accomplished another key point:
The biggest trick is to let his policies stay in place for as long as possible. Most of his policies take the right approach--long-term fixes so problems do not recur; planned-out ideas that do not rely on external revenues (taxes, etc.) or fixes to sustain themselves. Unfortunately, many politicians rely on short-term fixes that make people happy enough to keep poll numbers high. It will take a dedicated president to let Mr. Bush's policies ride their course and build up this country and the rest of the world.
While Bush has been unable to add to his tax cuts, he has fought any suggestion to 'try this' or 'try that', and the economy has remained strong because of it. (Lest someone try to point to the housing market, it is important to remember that in a country of free choice, little can be done about stupidity save increasing education, which Bush has tried to push for while others have argued we should 'focus elsewhere'.) This patience and 'sticking to his guns' has not only slowly brought people to grudgingly admit* that the tax cuts worked, that lower taxes have increased growth and in turn tax revenues (gasp!), etc., but a good WSJ piece this morning notes that major Democratic candidates are finally changing their tune somewhat. Yes, they still want to try those short-term fixes that do little but make them popular, but there's a marked difference between that and what they wanted to do in the past.

Education, balance, and patience. Who'd have thunk that those would work?

* I'm sure someone will argue that "people don't think the economy is doing all that well". A friend noted recently that this is garbage. Polls asking people how they are doing economically all come out very favorably; polls asking how they think the economy is doing overall come out far more in the middle, leaning toward 'not so well'. That just means that the media does a nice job of telling everyone about the "struggling economy" even when the economy isn't struggling... and why should people know any better about others' finances? I trust hard numbers and people talking about their own situations far more than polls asking people on the street how "they think" the economy as a whole is doing.