22mayeconomist-bartlett2-blog480

We'd better hope – against all current evidence – that it's more like Clinton than that other guy no Republican ever mentions:

Today’s conservatives oppose tax increases so strenuously that many were willing to default on the nation’s debt last summer rather than raise taxes by a single penny. They overwhelmingly believe in a nonsensical theory called “starve the beast,” which asserts that tax cuts automatically reduce spending and tax increases never reduce the deficit because they invariably lead to spending increases.

The Clinton and Bush 43 administrations are almost perfect tests of starve-the-beast theory; the former raised taxes in 1993, while the latter signed into law seven different major tax cuts, according to a Treasury study. If there were any truth whatsoever to starving the beast, we should have seen a rise in spending during the Clinton years and a fall in spending during the Bush years. In fact, we had exactly the opposite results.

Bruce Bartlett has the numbers that prove it. What we really have right now is a choice between two conservatisms: one believes in a balanced approach to long-term debt (with increased taxes on the wealthy, investments in infrastructure, reform of entitlements); the other believes in slashing taxes and revenues still further, increasing defense spending, slashing core discretionary spending and entitlements. I don't think it's a debate any longer which approach would increase the debt more. There isn't a debate about Clinton's and Bush's records. The former was a conservative; the latter a big government spender and borrower who so crippled this country's finances it could barely survive the financial crash that was the exclamation point to the wreckage of the last Republican era.