Wednesday, February 27, 2013

A Trickle of National Republicans Expirimenting With Populism

One of my biggest, screaming disappointments with the Obama administration was the economic team.  As soon as word came down that Larry Summers and Tim Geithner were to run policy, my hopes for progressive policy were dashed.  And correctly so.  Once again progressive policies would be marginalized, and the Rubinite financial policies would rule.  And so they did.  And the economic policy continues to disappoint, though its gotten a lot better since the disastrous days of 2009-2011.

So I actually welcome this Op-Ed from former FDIC Chair Sheila Bair in today's NYT.  Sheila Bair is one of the few examples I can point to of a reasonable, moderate and more or less honest Republican.  I don't think she carries much political clout, but nevertheless its nice to see this in print:
I am a capitalist and a lifelong Republican. I believe that, in a meritocracy, some level of income inequality is both inevitable and desirable, as encouragement to those who contribute most to our economic prosperity. But I fear that government actions, not merit, have fueled these extremes in income distribution through taxpayer bailouts, central-bank-engineered financial asset bubbles and unjustified tax breaks that favor the rich.
This is not a situation that any freethinking Republican should accept. Skewing income toward the upper, upper class hurts our economy because the rich tend to sit on their money — unlike lower- and middle-income people, who spend a large share of their paychecks, and hence stimulate economic activity.
All of which is true.  Republicans of course can not credibly run against those sort of policies . . . because those are all Republican policies.  But given the Beltway media obsession with austerity and kicking the poors, anything that shifts the national conversation to the left on tax policy is a good thing.  The Villagers stick their fingers in their ears whenever the dirty hippies talk about a more equitable tax policy - maybe they will listen when a Republican makes the point.

Of course, she does also bring up Bowles-Simpson, which is utter crap, but I'll let her slide on that one.  And credit where due - Bair was a pretty decent head of FDIC.

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