Were I not so busy visiting a good Mormon friend in Utah — where I get to play uncle to his kids — I might have more to say about Mortimer B. Zuckerman’s piece, The Most Fiscally Irresponsible Government in U.S. History, that Glenn Reynolds linked yesterday.
Suffice it to say that I read the piece shortly after my friend and I discussed this very issue, how the growing federal debt threatens not just our economy, but even the very greatness of this nation. The passage that Glenn included on Instapundit very much reflected the tone of my recent conversation:
People see the stimulus, fashioned and passed by Congress in such a hurry, as a metaphor for wasted money. They are highly critical about the lack of discipline among our political leaders. The question that naturally arises is how to forestall a long-term economic decline.
But, something else struck me:
In a usnews.com post on July 26, Jodie Allen of the Pew Research Center reported that in recent weeks more academic and market economists have been urging the government to defer budget cuts and tax increases and instead provide additional stimulus to a still-fragile economy, some by continuing the Bush tax cuts. But among the public there has been a suggestive shift of opinion the other way, reflecting worries about debt. “Deficit and government spending” has jumped from 10th or 11th place as a priority for the federal government to one that is second only to job creation and economic growth.
While I of course so favor deferring tax increases into perpetuity, I do favor making budget cuts immediately. Does this make me more or less representative of Americans?
That said, there does seem to be a disconnect between what the “élite” economists favor and what the people want. People just don’t believe government stimuli work. But, as per my conversation with my friend, would they support the drastic spending cuts we need to put our fiscal house in order?
Consider this: “Why plan a second stimulus,” Zuckerman asks, “if the first stimulus couldn’t prevent high unemployment?”