Friday, July 19, 2013

The Tea Partiers are not the only ones who think sound bites in echo chambers are a substitute for policy....

On Tuesday Thomas Friedman published an OPED in the NYT called If Churchill Could See Us Now - arguing that the conservatives in the House of Representatives were acting like idiots on immigration reform.  And indeed, I think Friedman is correct, partially.

Indeed, some members of the House GOP have no sense on immigration reform.  I thought the Bush proposals were pretty good and while I have some concerns about the Gang of 8 proposal - everyone who cares about this country should be working very hard to figure out a way to reduce the obvious problems of our current system.   Over the last two decades I have done a lot of work in Mexico and have an appreciation for the country and its possibilities.   Mexico is an important trading partner.   The perceptions held by some of the people on the right are wrong on a number of fronts; for the last couple of years, at least in California, Mexican immigration has slowed if not reversed.   Part of that is a result of our immigration policies and part relates to a better economic choice - real GDP in Mexico is more robust by a factor of 2X compared to the US.   In addition, the last numbers I saw showed that US immigration for the last couple of years has been dominated by Asians.   We should be a welcoming country and our current system is idiotic.

That being said, where I think Friedman is wrong is on a host of other issues where Senator Reid and some of his colleagues and Pelosi and some of her colleagues on the democratic side of the aisle have been as intractable as the GOP right front has been.     The ACA is a complicated and expensive idea which will worsen not improve our health care system.  The President's unilateral (and I believe ultimately unconstitutional) suspension of the employer mandate is a good indicator that even the supporters of the program understand that this Rube Goldberg like solution is seriously flawed.   Dodd Frank adds layers of complexity to the financial system and at the same time improves the possibility that the next time Jaime Diamond or one of the other geniuses in the too big to fail banks screws up that we will get caught paying for their idiocy.   Neither of those bills was created with any GOP support - and that was intentional.  

A special interest of mine is the tax system.  Our income tax (both personal and corporate) are absurd.   Baucus and Hatch have an interesting idea about how to reform the code - or at least begin a discussion and much of the left and right have refused to consider it seriously.

The TARP and Stimulus were examples of bipartisan idiocy.  We spent close to two trillion dollars paying off credit cards of arrogant SOBs who haven't a clue about either economics or ethics.    I just listened to a podcast of Jeffrey Sachs (who is about as far away from me on economics as it is possible to be) who argued that all of that debt we created to fund nonsense like Cash for Clunkers was a tremendous waste of dough.   Contrary to what former Enron Advisors like Paul Krugman says deficits do matter and if you buy the Keynesian idea of stimulus we should only be creating deficits for things that have long term benefits.   So sure, we should be working for fundamental reform of our flawed system of immigration but we should also be holding all elected officials to the fire when they believe their job is to create soundbites for echo chambers of their own narrow base of supporters.   And in that instance it is not just the conservative members of the House that are at fault.

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