Former Reagan budget director, David Stockman, has been blogging up a storm these last few years. I have mixed feelings about his work. It’s packed with emotion and (let’s say) definite conclusions. Sometimes I’ll cluck my tongue at the run-on sentences, typos, excess of adverbs, wandering, exaggerations, inaccuracies and other signs of ranting that mar Stockman’s work. On the other hand, Stockman is a free-market, balanced-budget guy and often I admire him for saying what needs to be said.
In that spirit I note his recent piece, Good Riddance To Rep. Eric Cantor: Bagman For Wall Street And The War Party. The gist is that Cantor could give a nice free-market speech, but in practice, Cantor stood for venture socialism and Washington business-as-usual. Cantor was a key factor in the GOP supporting the 2008-9 TARP and GM bailouts, the Export-Import Bank (long cited as an example of corporate welfare), unexamined Defense spending, and so forth.
Stockman gives details and he ties Cantor to Paul Ryan, whose wonderful budget plans really mean little change to Washington in practice (Ryan’s plans are merely not as insane as the Democrats’ budget plans). And, however all that might be, Stockman as usual gets near to the heart of what ails us:
…financial repression, ZIRP, QE, wealth effects and the Greenspan/Bernanke/Yellen “put” under the stock market and risk assets generally are not just a major policy mistake; they are a full-throttle assault on the heart and soul of conservative economics.
You can not expect to have fiscal rectitude in a modern democracy, for example, when the central bank since the year 2000 has monetized nearly $4 trillion of public debt…Indeed, financial repression makes the carry cost of the public debt so painless—-that is, probably about $400 billion per year less than it would be under a regime of free market interest rates—that not one in a hundred politicians can see they virtue of fall[ing] on the fiscal sword in the here and now [o]n behalf of unborn generations of taxpayers who will carry the burden of today’s fiscal folly…
So Eric Cantor made a career of milking the Warfare State and pandering to Wall Street. This brought him nearly to the top of the Washington heap. But in the end, it did not fool his constituents. And most certainly it set back the conservative cause immeasurably.