Is the end of the age of crazy tax cuts at hand?

Feb 7th, 2010 | By | Category: In Brief
President Ronald Reagan (left) offers youthful budget director David Stockman some jelly beans during a budget meeting in the 1980s. © Bettmann/Corbis.

President Ronald Reagan (left) offers youthful budget director David Stockman some jelly beans during a budget meeting in the 1980s. © Bettmann/Corbis.

Who just said: “I think the lesson of the last 25 years is that it doesn’t work …  Taxes are going to have to be raised. … The Republicans think their mission in life is to cut taxes. Sorry … game over. We’re now in the tax-raising business. And we’re going to be in the tax-raising business for the next decade”?

Give yourself a maple syrup snow cone if you said David Stockman, former director of the Office of Management and Budget for Ronald Reagan!

Stockman’s intelligence and intellectual honesty have always transcended knee-jerk ideological commitments. During his tenure at OMB he got into hot water with the White House for some frank remarks to the Atlantic Monthly. After he resigned from the Reagan administration in 1985, he published a book called  The Triumph of Politics: Why the Reagan Revolution Failed.

Similarly, after he left Washington, “Stockman, now 63 years old, enjoyed a successful career as an investment banker.” But: “In 2007 he was indicted for securities fraud in relationship to Collins & Aikman Inc., the now-defunct auto-parts supplier.” In the end, however, “the US Attorney’s Office in Manhattan dropped all charges early last year.”

Stockman is currently at work on a book, that “will explore how crony capitalism reached a peak during the recent financial meltdown.” Whatever else, he cannot in any sense be described as a “socialist” — or a “liberal” or even just very vaguely on “the left.”

A 60-something David Stockman with his wife Jennifer at Aspen Art Museum dinner 2008. (Jennifer is also national co-chair of the Republican Majority for Choice, dedicated to preserving legal access to abortion.) Compliments New York Social Diary.

A 60-something David Stockman with his wife Jennifer at Aspen Art Museum dinner 2008. (Jennifer is also national co-chair of the Republican Majority for Choice, dedicated to preserving legal access to abortion.) Compliments New York Social Diary.

Stockman has also recently come out in favour of President Obama’s proposal to tax big US banks: “I would give the administration credit for trying to move us back to something that’s a lot saner than trillion-dollar banks being propped up by the taxpayers, which is exactly where we are today … The baleful reality is that the big banks … are dangerous institutions, deeply embedded in a bull market culture of entitlement and greed.”

In his earliest political incarnation David Stockman was a Republican congressman from Michigan (1977–1981). It would be a great boon to the State of the Union nowadays if there were a few Republican congressmen like him in the Washington of 2010.

You have to wonder as well if anyone in Stephen Harper’s Conservative Party of Canada is paying attention to David Stockman’s hard-earned public policy wisdom. Even in the somewhat more benign Canadian financial circumstances of today, he is surely just telling the plain truth: “we’re going to be in the tax-raising business for the next decade.”

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