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The Voodoo That They Do So Well

Deficit hawks have a common trope of drawing parallels between right-wing critics who don't want to raise taxes and left-wing critics who don't want to cut entitlement spending. It's not a very good parallel. Liberals have an ideological preference for a larger welfare state, with tax rates closer to the range found in Western Europe. But they do accept the factual premise that reducing spending on entitlement programs would, in fact, decrease the budget deficit. They simply find that outcome undesirable.

Meanwhile conservatives not only prefer much smaller government, they constantly deny that increasing the revenue base will actually reduce the budget deficit. One such theory is that increasing tax rates reduces tax revenue. Another theory is that increasing tax rates increases revenue but then, through political voodoo, causes spending to increase by an equal or greater amount.

Most conservative movement apparatchiks advocate one or the other of these theories, and some, like Wall Street Journal editorial page economics writer Stephen Moore, advocate both, even though the two theories are mutually exclusive. Here is classic Moore in Laffer mode defending his arguments that Bill Clinton's 1993 deficit reduction plan would increase the deficit. And here he is today arguing for starve the beast:

We're constantly told by politicos that tax increases must be put "on the table" to get congressional Democrats—who've already approved close to $1 trillion of new spending in violation of their own budget rules over the last two years—to agree to make cuts in the unsustainable entitlement programs like Medicare and Social Security.
Our research indicates this is a sucker play. After the 1990 and 1993 tax increases, federal spending continued to rise. The 1990 tax increase deal was enacted specifically to avoid automatic spending sequestrations that would have been required under the then-prevailing Gramm-Rudman budget rules.

I haven't read the paper they claim shows that tax hikes lead to spending hikes. But I have seen research conclusively showing the very opposite. Research aside, it's plainly obvious that the 1990 and 1993 tax increases did not cause spending to rise:

Following the 1990 budget agreement, outlays collapsed as revenue rose sharply. Outlays only increased after the 2001 Bush tax cut.

The good news is that the utter, abject failure of George Bush's economic theories -- failure even by the ideological standards of the conservative movement -- has created some openness to questioning the voodoo dogma of the right. But the dogma remains very powerful, and there's simply no parallel to it on the left.