Monday, June 26, 2006

Ben Stein: Republican for Higher Taxes

You know Ben Stein. He was the straight-faced, deadpan teacher in Ferris Bueller's Day Off, he was the host of the Comedy Central TV game show, Win Ben Stein's Money, and he's done a million other shows and commercials.

Ben Stein is also a conservative Republican economist and lawyer who teaches at Pepperdine University and is proud of his time working in the Nixon White House. He's a complicated and interesting guy.

Yesterday, the New York Times ran an op-ed by Ben entitled Note to the New Treasury Secretary: It's Time to Raise Taxes (Log in required - check for passwords).

In the piece, Stein tells the new secretary that, "You are facing what is, in many ways, the most dangerous economic future since the Depression. Danger is coming on many fronts, only dimly seen by the powers that be in Washington, and your insights and eloquence will be urgently necessary." He then goes on to explain precisely why we are in such a predicament.

After a brilliant explanation of monetary policy that is easily understood by most any reader, Stein comes to this:
"May I respectfully suggest that in this environment, ending the estate tax is not a major sensible priority? May I suggest that having the lowest taxes in 65 years on high-income taxpayers is not really as prudent as it might be if we were not running stupendous deficits, with far worse in the future?"
In the very same article, Stein praises the Bush-Rove machine, but implies that when it comes to economics, they just don't get it. Stein, a self-described "Eisenhower Republican," does.

Over-spending ourselves into Third World nation status is stupid whether it's led by Democratic "softness" (from welfare to foreign aid) or Republican "strength" (wars and corporate welfare). The deficit is not a conservative or liberal issue; it's an intelligence issue. When you're broke, and you've got large bills coming in, you don't start giving money away.

Okay, so Ben put it a bit more eloquently and nicer than I did. He's a smart guy (and very nice, too). The question here is whether Henry Paulson (the new Treasury Secretary) will be able to listen to Ben (and common sense and economic reality) or will just do what Bush tells him to.

Thanks to the blog for the link.

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