Recently, I wrote a brief reminder about how pundits who can’t even understand the basic arithmetic of electoral horse race reporting (that is, polling) have no business opining about more complex things like federal budgets and tax policy. Well, let’s add conservative think tanks to the mix. For those who don’t follow the ins and outs of the budget debates, one of the key issues the expiration of the Bush tax cuts enacted in 2001. Here’s what two analysts at the conservative Heritage Foundation wrote at the time (boldface mine):
To assess the plan’s economic and budgetary effects and to help frame this debate, analysts in The Heritage Foundation Center for Data Analysis (CDA) conducted a dynamic simulation of the proposals in the President’s tax relief plan. The final results show that the Bush plan would significantly increase economic growth and family income while substantially reducing federal debt. For example:
•Under President Bush’s plan, an average family of four’s inflation-adjusted disposable income would increase by $4,544 in fiscal year (FY) 2011, and the national debt would effectively be paid off by FY 2010.
•The net tax revenue reduction, after accounting for the larger tax base that would result from higher employment and faster economic growth under the Bush plan, is $1.1 trillion from FY 2002 to FY 2011, 33.4 percent less than conventional static estimates.
•The plan would save the entire Social Security surplus and increase personal savings while the federal government accumulated $1.8 trillion in uncommitted funds from FY 2008 to FY 2011, revenue that could be used to reform the Social Security and Medicare systems and reduce the payroll tax.
Ok, then. Didn’t quite work out that way. Also, this:
•Create more job opportunities. As Chart 1 shows, over 1.6 million more Americans would be working at the end of FY 2011, compared with the CBO baseline forecast. Moreover, the unemployment rate would average just 4.7 percent instead of 4.9 percent from FY 2002 to FY 2011.
Just something to keep in mind when the Very Serious People tell you what you should be thinking about fiscal cliffs, Social Security’s supposed ‘insolvency’ and so forth.
Our supposed betters are fools and sociopaths.