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Politics on the margin—very encouraging

Ronald Pestritto has an interesting article in today's WSJ entitled "Glenn Beck, Progressives, and Me." In it he gives the nod to Beck's view that liberals today—especially Obama—are continuing the progressive tradition which began with Woodrow Wilson and Theodore Roosevelt. He also agrees with Beck that "The progressive movement did indeed repudiate the principles of individual liberty and limited government that were the basis of the American republic." There is a lot at stake in the November elections, and the surprising victories of Tea Party candidates in yesterday's primaries is therefore quite encouraging. The people are increasingly concerned—and rightly so—that the federal government has become way too powerful and needs to be checked.

Also in today's WSJ you will find a great article by Alberto Alesina, "Tax Cuts vs. 'Stimulus': The Verdict Is In." He reviews the findings of his research that show that a reduction in government spending and a reduction in tax rates are far more likely to stimulate an economy than increased spending. In fact, "cutting spending in order to reduce deficits may be the key to promoting economic recovery," because reduced spending sends the message that tax burdens are likely to decline in the future, and this creates positive incentive effects to expand individual initiative and new investment.

I've been saying something similar since early last year. Obama's stimulus spending was very unlikely to stimulate the economy. Indeed, I thought the stimulus was most likely going to slow down the recovery, because government spends money less efficiently than the private sector, and because increased spending creates expectations of rising tax burdens and that discourages investment and work.

The best thing we can do for the future is to recall what is left of the stimulus, recall the healthcare bill, extend the Bush tax cuts, and vote in a new Congress. These are ideas that appear to have legs, and that's very encouraging.

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