The House Democrats are in

The House Democrats are in the midst of a two-day forum on the economy. The Washington Times reports: “Democrats said they are not ready to announce their plan and that the forum is the first in a series of meetings meant to gather the latest economic information and help them craft their plan.” So far, what the Democrats have done is criticize the Administration; Nancy Pelosi’s statement is typical of their general, content-less critique: “We are in a place when the economy has not worked; every family in America knows that.” What to do about it, the Democrats have yet to decide.
This strikes me as an astonishing admission. One of the House Democrats, Rep. Zoe Lofgren of California, said of last month’s election that “people knew what we were against, but they didn’t have a certain idea of what we were for.” No wonder, since the Democrats themselves have yet to make up their minds what they are for. The truth is that the Democrats’ posture on the economy has been exactly the same as their position on the war on terror: stay on the sidelines, hope things go badly, and take political advantage if they do.
The only thing we know for sure is that the Democrats would like to raise taxes, but no one has been able to articulate a coherent theory as to how that would help the economy. Also, raising taxes would contradict the one element of the Democrats’ program that we have been promised, i.e., “fiscal stimulus,” which means tax cuts. So it will be interesting to see what the Democrats come up with. My guess is that the Democrats like the position they are in now, and will commit themselves to as few specifics as possible. I also predict that the package the Democrats propose will not be based on any discernible economic theory, but rather will be an assortment of goodies for various constituent groups. Most fundamentally, the Democrats, like the Republicans, know that the economy will continue to improve with time; both parties want to be in a position to take the credit when that happens.

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