The Debate We Won’t Be Having

by Patrick Appel

Yglesias worries that "focusing attention on the big-picture disagreement between Democrats and Republicans about long-term fiscal policy means we won't be focusing attention on what ought to be the most pressing economic policy issue of our time—mass unemployment and the tragic waste of human and economic potential it represents." Frum makes a related argument:

Paul Ryan's various plans and road maps contain many interesting elements for the reduction of government in the decades ahead. They do not respond to the most immediate and urgent problem: prolonged mass unemployment caused by heavy household debt. Why not? There's why the ideology makes itself felt. Conservatives ardently believe that big future deficits are the cause of today's unemployment. They feel it. They know it. And they don't want to hear different.

Mike Konczal also notices that Romney lacks solutions to the immediate jobs crisis:

I can, quickly, come up with a set of conservative stimulus ideas on how to get the economy going again, but the wide range of these programs are missing from Romney's economics report. They aren't going to hire market monetarists to run the Federal Reserve. Mitt Romney just publicly said the Federal Reserve shouldn't go ahead with another round of quantitive easing [1]. There isn't the argument that the government should just not collect taxes for a year or two with borrowing costs so low, which will also make it that much harder to raise taxes to Clinton-era rates afterwards. There's nothing in the paper about housing, even though one of Romney's advisors is well known for his mass refinancing program to help boost demand. And there's no conditional lending to states to prevent layoffs on the condition that they dismantle public sector unions, or privatize certain government services, or whatever.

Frum adds:

 Even odder, none [of these ideas] have gained much backing from any of the conservative think tanks whose job supposedly is to generate creative policy alternatives.