Thoughts, essays, and writings on Liberty. Written by the heirs of Patrick Henry.

“The greatest advances of civilization, whether in architecture or painting, in science and literature, in industry or agriculture, have never come from centralized government.”     Milton Friedman

February 12, 2009

Ezra Klein Assumes Big-Governmentism Is A Partisan Thing

by Brad Warbiany

Ezra Klein, discussing the left’s worry about adding AMT reform to the stimulus bill:

But this also got to one of the other problems with the bill: So many of the provisions were politically vulnerable in isolation that you couldn’t pick through them one by one. It would have meant passing the legislation late next year. The imperative of speed forestalled a thorough analysis.

Many on the right thought this was something the left liked about the stimulus bill: It was a way to ram through a lot of spending very quickly. But it was actually the opposite: It meant there was little ability to affect the overall mix of spending.

He’s missing the point. This wasn’t something the left or the right in particular liked about the bill. Contrary to his political calculation, it wasn’t an effort by the right to hoodwink the left, nor vice versa.

It was an effort by those in government to hoodwink the rest of us.

If you look at the bill, the left has a lot of tax cuts to complain about — but they’re still in there. The right has a lot of social programs to complain about — but they’re still in there. Everyone in Congress got something here or there out of this bill. In the process, though, they ensured that we’ll be at least $800B (and likely over $1T) in debt due to their pet programs.

Klein is correct about one thing, though — the Republicans got the better end of the deal. They got their tax cuts into the bill, but at the same time almost unanimously voted against it, so the Democrats will get the blame for wasting taxpayer money when the bailout doesn’t work. But in the end, the ones getting the truly raw deal are those of us poor schlubs in the private sector who will end up paying for it.

This is an us vs. them deal, but not the left vs. right situation that Klein is assuming. It’s the rulers vs. the ruled, and the rulers won.

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