Not So Smart

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February 13, 2009 10:45 a.m.

It pains me to say this. But Sen. John Cornyn doesn’t seem to be too bright. Cornyn was just on MSNBC explaining that spending in a severe economic downturn doesn’t make sense and should be replaced by tax cuts since individuals can spend money “more efficiently” than government. I guess he doesn’t get that the whole point of a stimulus bill is that in a severe recession individuals — acting on rationale individual economic motives — aren’t spending. And only government, as a policy decision, can spend at a high rate notwithstanding the state of the economy.

He also claimed a 3x multiplier for tax cuts, which I don’t think anyone believes. But I’m more interested in his point about the relative efficiency of private vs. public sector spending since it seemed to show that he doesn’t understand what a recession, let alone a severe recession (which has qualitatively different dynamics), even is.

I know there are contrary theories of how economies work. But not grappling with the high level of risk in the economy that makes businesses and people unwilling to spend … not sure you can enter the conversation without getting that.

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