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 Joseph Stiglitz: “Romney’s Plan is Based on Magic”

 Joseph Stiglitz: “Romney’s Plan is Based on Magic”
What’s at stake in this election for the U.S. economy?

Quite a lot. First, there’s what we call the macro-economy. The budget cuts that Romney/Ryan propose will certainly slow growth. If the European downturn continues that could tip us into a recession. The cuts certainly won’t provide the kind of stimulus that Obama’s jobs bill, for instance, pushes. Romney’s plan is based on magic: Just because he gets elected, the economy is supposed to take off. There is no evidence that anything like that would happen. Quite the contrary — I think the opposite would happen. The business community would see the cutbacks coming and that would itself cause a slowdown in the economy.

So that’s the macroeconomy. Secondly, the Romney/Ryan budget promises to spend more on the military while cutting taxes and cutting the deficit, and that means only one thing. If you look at the arithmetic, it means less investment in infrastructure, R&D, education … it just can’t add up any other way. And that means we’ll be growing more slowly in the future.

The irony is that these two things — lower growth now and lower growth in the future — means that our debt-to-GDP ratio won’t improve, it will get worse. So even if you were foolish enough to think that the debt-to-GDP ratio is the main determinant of future prosperity — which it’s not — the Romney agenda will fail.

And although I don’t like what’s called “presidential economics,” where you look solely at what happens under a particular presidential regime, the fact is that Romney has many of the same economic advisers that Bush did. Those economic advisers essentially doubled the debt in eight years. And that was in a period of relatively high growth. Why would we think that wouldn’t happen again? I don’t see any reason for that. Particularly when the global environment is more adverse.

And then the third part has to do with what kind of society we will be. If Romney wins, we will become a more divided society, a more unfair society. And that in turn will bring greater inequality, and will also undermine our growth.

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