Washington Post blogger Ezra Klein makes the counterintuitive (for him) case that a Mitt Romney victory in November will increase the chances of a Keynesian recovery next year.
The reason, writes Klein, is that “Republicans won’t choose to crash the economy in 2013.”
This aligns with my own speculation weeks ago that, contrary to those liberals who are wringing their hands over draconian spending cuts next year, a President Romney and congressional Republicans will probably govern in a way that protects their own job security.
The key question, it seems to me, is what will happen to the federal discretionary budget in the immediate term.
Mitt Romney let the sane dog out in a recent interview with Time magazine, telling Mark Halperin:
[I]f you take a trillion dollars for instance, out of the first year of the federal budget, that would shrink GDP over 5%. That is by definition throwing us into recession or depression. So I’m not going to do that, of course. What you do is you make adjustments on a basis that show, in the first year, actions that over time get you to a balanced budget.
The Paul Ryan-authored House GOP budget cuts discretionary spending by approximately $1 trillion over the next decade, but Romney’ citing of that single-year figure in the Time interview seemed to be purposefully hyperbolic. (Sen. Rand Paul’s proposed budget cuts of $500 billion, for example, in one year don’t even come close.)
So how far apart is Romney from Ryan on this?
If I had to guess, I’d say Ryan could be prevailed upon to accept higher discretionary spending if it meant his God’s-eye-view budget goals — lower taxes and long-term changes to entitlement programs — were enacted.
Front-loaded tax cuts and backloaded entitlement cuts could be squared with a Keynesian vision of stimulus in the short term (not unlike Reagan’s first term, in fact.)
But I doubt such a turn of events would keep Ezra Klein warm at night.