Author Archive | Bruce Bartlett

Medicare Expansion Backlash

Republicans think they are so clever, having rammed through a massive expansion of the welfare state by giving drug benefits to the elderly. They co-opted the AARP — long considered to be in the pocket of the Democrats — and left the Democrats with no real domestic issue to run on. Hence, Republicans believe they […]

On Republicans and Democrats

Readers sometimes ask why I occasionally write columns advising Democrats on how they could gain some political advantage by adopting certain policies. After all, as a Republican, don’t I want my party to win? Why am I helping the enemy? The answer is that I’m a Republican only because, historically, it has more closely represented […]

Why Voters Like Gridlock

On Jan. 23, 1996, Bill Clinton told the nation, “The era of big government is over.” If so, it sure didn’t last very long. Today, the era of big government is back with a vengeance, ushered in by a massive new prescription drug entitlement, a pork-laden energy bill of grotesque proportions and a trade war […]

Republicans vs. The Free Market: Tariffs and Trade Restrictions on Imports

On Nov. 18, the Bush administration announced a decision to impose new trade restrictions on imports of some Chinese textiles. Although rationalized as a means of saving American manufacturing jobs, no trade expert thinks it will have more than a trivial effect in this regard. Its principal impact will be to further enrich a few […]

Mercantilism and Protectionism: Don’t Worry About Trade Deficits

Earlier this month, the House Ways and Means Committee held hearings on legislation to impose tariffs on Chinese imports. While such action is unlikely, it shows that the political pressure to do something about growing imports from China is increasing. However, emotion rather than economics is driving the agenda. The only reason anyone cares about […]

Deficit Politics

The recent announcements that the economy grew an astonishing 7.2 percent in the 3rd quarter while adding 126,000 jobs in October are necessitating a change in strategy by Democrats. Up until now, their mantra has been that Republicans gave us the worst economy since the Great Depression, or whatever their hyperbole of the day is. […]

The Flat Tax Makes a Comeback

The flat tax is making a comeback. After being banished to the political wilderness after Steve Forbes made it the central issue of his losing campaign for the Republican presidential nomination in 1996, interest is perking up again. One of the Democrats running for president could do himself (or herself) a lot of good by […]

George W. Hoover?

The Great Depression remains the central economic event in American history. Even today, politicians invoke its memory. For example, Democrats routinely accuse George W. Bush of having economic policies like those of Herbert Hoover, on whose watch the depression began. Given its horrendous effects, accusing anyone of threatening a replay is about as nasty a […]

Will President Bush Let Congress Increase Taxes?

In a recent column, I predicted that President Bush will likely be forced into a budget deal involving higher taxes sometime after next year’s election because of rising interest rates. Some of my friends thought I was endorsing such an action. I was not. But my experience in Washington over the last 25 years left […]

Research on Labor Supply Supports Supply-Side View of Tax Policy

In a recent column, I discussed some of the support for supply-side economics at the World Bank, International Monetary Fund and in academia. Today, I would like to extend my discussion to some emerging research on labor supply that further supports the supply-side view of tax policy. For decades, most economists took the view that […]

The Estate Tax Non-Repeal

Of all the tax cuts enacted during the Bush administration, none has been more controversial than repeal of the estate tax. Even though it represents only a very small part of the total revenue loss from the 2001 and 2003 tax bills — and isn’t really repealed, anyway, since it comes back in 2011 after […]

Time Do Something About the Budget Deficit?

Despite improving economic and budgetary news, there is rising pressure to do something about the budget deficit. I expect this pressure to grow rapidly over the next year. By early 2005, I believe such pressure will be irresistible. It’s not too soon to start thinking about where this could lead. The main reason why I […]

Take Back Your Time Day and the Lump of Labor Fallacy

It’s hard work being a left-wing kook these days. On top of anti-globalization demonstrations and antiwar protests, there is always some new issue to organize. This month, it is “Take Back Your Time Day,” scheduled for Oct. 24. Originated by the rabidly left-wing Center for Religion, Ethics and Social Policy at Cornell University, the goal […]

What is Poor?

The Census Bureau recently released its annual report on poverty in the United States. It was widely reported that the number of people officially defined as poor rose by 1.7 million, raising the poverty rate from 11.7 percent of the population to 12.1 percent. None of the stories I read called attention to another Census […]

Higher Productivity Creates Opportunity

The slow pace of job creation is clearly the most serious political and economic problem in the country today. Although Democrats and the press continue to focus on Iraq, President Bush and congressional Republicans know that the sluggish economy is a far greater threat to their re-election than anything going on in the Middle East. […]

In Defense of Supply-Side Economics

In a recent column, I defended supply-side economics from an attack by Princeton economist Paul Krugman in the New York Times Magazine. One of the rare civil criticisms I got came from my friends at TAPPED, the web log of the liberal American Prospect magazine. Their point is that Krugman was justified in his attack […]

Bring in the Legal Goons: First Tobacco, Now Fat

In Seattle, there is a popular restaurant called the 5 Spot. Its signature dish is a huge, calorie-laden dessert called The Bulge. Access to it, however, is restricted to those patrons willing to sign a waiver agreeing not to sue the restaurant for making them fat. Although obviously a marketing gimmick, the underlying issue is […]

Paul Krugman Concedes–Sort Of

New York Times columnist Paul Krugman is an angry man. If he were a cartoon character, he would probably look like Donald Duck during one of his famous tirades, with steam pouring out of his ears every time he hears someone say “tax cuts” or “George W. Bush” or “supply-side economics.” All these things seem […]

Quotas,Tenure, and Diversity of Opinion in Academia

This is the time of year when millions of parents send their children off to universities. Unfortunately, one price of getting one’s children into a top school these days is that they may be subjected to four years of liberal propaganda. Those in academia like to call the liberal orientation of most college faculty a […]

Manufacturing Will Be Booming

With Congress having returned from its August recess last week, the rhetoric on employment has heated up. In particular, we are hearing more and more about the loss of manufacturing jobs. A Federal Reserve Bank of New York study warns that many have disappeared permanently and will not come back even after rapid growth returns. […]