Simon Quoted in FT on GOP "Pledge"

In today's Financial Times, Edward Luce contrasts the reality of British Prime Minister David Cameron's austerity plans with the GOP's "Pledge." He describes Cameron's plans as "medicine" and the GOP's "Pledge" as sugar, and quotes Simon Rosenberg:

In the build-up to the UK election in May, David Cameron’s Conservative party made little bones about the fact that Britain was heading into an “age of austerity”. In his “contract with voters” that Mr Cameron issued before polling day, he observed: “We know how unhappy you are and how doubtful you are that anyone will achieve anything or change anything.”

The contrast with the Pledge to America the Republicans issued last week as the basis for their midterm election campaign could not be sharper. One party offered the 21st century equivalent of “blood, sweat and tears” – admittedly watered down as polling day approached. The other parodied Pangloss’s hope that “all will be for the best in the best of all possible worlds”.

Nowhere in the Republican pledge was there acknowledgement of the painful decisions that all Americans must confront to avert disaster. Nor was there even a hint of admission that Republicans bore at least equal responsibility for the low regard in which all politicians are held in America, as they are in Britain. Instead of medicine, there was sugar...

In contrast, John Boehner, the Republican leader in the House of Representatives, flanked by the “Young Guns”, only one of whom is younger than Mr Cameron, promised to maintain all the tax cuts that George W. Bush instituted, never raise any taxes again in any shape or form, and do all this while restoring America’s budget to balance.

All of which might have been plausible were it to have spelt out the draconian spending cuts that would therefore be necessary to bring the budget back to surplus. But it declined to do so. Instead it ring-fenced more than three-quarters of the US federal budget – social security, Medicare and defence spending – and promised to impose caps on the remaining, “discretionary” portion of it.

In numerical terms, the $320bn the party has specified in spending cuts over the next decade is dwarfed by the $4,000bn in tax cuts that it promises – all on top of the current double digit budget deficit.

Simon Rosenberg of the NDN, formerly known as the New Democratic Network, says the idea that this would result in a budget surplus comes from the “Harry Potter school of economics”.

If implemented, the pledge would bring about a crisis in US sovereign creditworthiness. In the name of the founding fathers it would jeopardise the dollar. Which leads us to one of two conclusions. Either the Republican Party believes what it is saying, in which case it has no further useful intellectual contribution to make. Or else it thinks the US electorate is intellectually challenged and will mistake this fantasy for a plan.