Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Sensible Republican answers to our debt

Sheila C. Bair, formerly chairwoman of the FDIC, wrote an op-ed in the New York Times entitled "Grand Old Parity" a little over a week ago. To my surprise, I found myself nodding in agreement with most of it. She advocates doing away with preferential treatment of investment income, for instance, with this remarkable insight:
Defenders of this giveaway make the unsubstantiated claim that it encourages job-creating investments. But what we have now is merely an immense pool of investment funds that has created far too few jobs. A report last year by Bain and Co. projected that by 2020 there will be $900 trillion in financial assets around the globe, chasing investments in a real economy worth only $90 trillion in gross domestic product. Why in heaven’s name do we need to keep a tax preference to encourage more?
She also urges spending on infrastructure to create jobs and to lay the groundwork for increased commerce. While I don't know if she and I would agree on the details of such a proposal (anything that tends to entrench fossil fuels further in our economy is not a wise investment, in my opinion), it's refreshing that someone who calls herself a Republican recognizes, and acknowledges in public, that there is a role for such spending at all. It's a sharp contrast to the mindless bleating for "cuts, cuts, cuts" coming from the party's Norquist-besotted majority.

Bair's piece exemplifies what a responsible Republican opposition should be putting forward as policy proposals. Yes, we need to rein in the debt, but for pity's sake, we need to do so in a way that won't tank our currently fragile economy. It's not just about getting a Republican into the White House in 2016: you have a moral, if not (alas) legal, responsibility to govern responsibly! Start acting like thinking, reasonable adults, and some of us will take a good hard look at what you have to offer!

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