Sunday, May 29, 2011

McConnell v. Dionne (guess who's right)

Answering reporters' questions about the budget negotiations the other day on the Hill, Sen. McConnell said "the problem is not that we're taxed too little, it's that we [i.e., the government] spend too much." (Source: C-Span radio)

However, as E.J. Dionne (without mentioning McConnell) observes: "Americans pay less in taxes
than the citizens of other rich countries — and currently pay the smallest share of their incomes for taxes since 1958."

Read the whole thing, as they say.


Aaron said...

E J Dionne gives us the old bait and switch. He hooks the reader with talk about an "imagination deficit" and offers him "imagining how practical public action could make our citizens’ lives better." Then he spends the rest of the article talking about how to "plan, invest and compete" to promote "national prosperity."

Both sides here assume that the way to improve life for the citizens is to increase material wealth. It's an awfully narrow debate, how to maximize standard of living. There are traditions on both the left and the right that are concerned with the good life rather than the GDP. Surprisingly, these left and right traditions even agree with each other on a lot of things.

LFC said...

I have a lot of sympathy for the view that quality of life cannot be adequately measured by GDP.

I took Dionne to be concerned with steps that would (among other things) improve quality of life, such as repairing crumbling infrastructure, expanding broadband access, not to mention reducing unemployment etc. However, he may put all this too much in the frame of 'competitiveness'. I read the piece fairly rapidly so I may have missed some nuances.

(I do think, without even having to follow Dionne's link to the OECD, that Americans pay less in taxes than citizens of other developed countries and that the Right never mentions this; but that's a somewhat separate issue.)