I'm no economist, as I've mentioned here before. But I am a writer, which means I have to make up names for things all the time. Now I've made one up for the kind of economic policy pursued by Republicans these past couple of decades (but never more fitting than it is right now). It's Pretend Economics, and it describes the idea that tax cuts are the one-size-fits-all solution to every economic situation.
It isn't true, it's been tested, it doesn't work. But they won't give up. Now they're trying to water down the stimulus package with tax cuts. If anything, the bill doesn't spend aggressively enough (see Nobel prize winning economist Paul Krugman's take here), and they want to take out spending and replace it with tax cuts?
Why? Not because they really think it's what the country needs. Because they know that powerful forward momentum in the economy will reflect well on President Obama and the Democratic-controlled Congress, and that's the last thing they want. A quick reversal will cement Democratic power for a generation. But a disastrous failure will make Obama a one-turn president and return Republicans to power. That's what they're counting on.
That, and they like the real effect of constant tax cuts (especially those directed at the wealthy), which is to take from the middle class and give to the rich, increasing their wealth and expanding the gap between them and the poor.
So they pretend, even though they know better. Because for them, national failure is a double-barreled win.
Feel free to spread the word--let's make Pretend Economics into a nationwide description of this morally bankrupt philosophy.
UPDATE: For some other takes on Pretend Economics vs. real-life economics, see Steven Pearlstein and Robert Reich. Reich goes into detail about why tax cuts don't work like spending does, and Pearlstein says the tax cut crowd needs to hire personal economic trainers to teach them what they should know if their business is...I don't know, say, running the country. He says:
"Actually, what's striking is that supposedly intelligent people are horrified at the thought that, during a deep recession, government might try to help the economy by buying up-to-date equipment for the people who protect us from epidemics and infectious diseases, by hiring people to repair environmental damage on federal lands and by contracting with private companies to make federal buildings more energy-efficient.
What really irks so many Republicans, of course, is that all the stimulus money isn't being used to cut individual and business taxes, their cure-all for economic ailments, even though all the credible evidence is that tax cuts are only about half as stimulative as direct government spending."