Paul Ryan’s Europe-Bashing Inaccurate And Makes Case For Progressives
Paul Krugman explains how Rep. Paul Ryan’s GOP response, following the right-wing meme that Europe has deficit problems because of progressive policies, is just not true.
Mr. Ryan (pictured) made highly dubious assertions about employment, health care and more. But what caught my eye, when I read the transcript, was what he said about other countries: “Just take a look at what’s happening to Greece, Ireland, the United Kingdom and other nations in Europe. They didn’t act soon enough; and now their governments have been forced to impose painful austerity measures: large benefit cuts to seniors and huge tax increases on everybody.”
Ryan may have a point about Greece, but he was wrong about Ireland and Britain, and generalizations about Europe don’t hold water.
On the eve of the financial crisis, conservatives had nothing but praise for Ireland, a low-tax, low-spending country by European standards. The Heritage Foundation’s Index of Economic Freedom ranked it above every other Western nation. In 2006, George Osborne, now Britain’s chancellor of the Exchequer, declared Ireland “a shining example of the art of the possible in long-term economic policy making.” And the truth was that in 2006-2007 Ireland was running a budget surplus, and had one of the lowest debt levels in the advanced world.
So what went wrong? The answer is: out-of-control banks; Irish banks ran wild during the good years, creating a huge property bubble. When the bubble burst, revenue collapsed, causing the deficit to surge, while public debt exploded because the government ended up taking over bank debts. And harsh spending cuts, while they have led to huge job losses, have failed to restore confidence.
So. the lesson from Ireland is that banks have to be regulated and if they’re not, balanced budgets don’t help. As for England, there was not a debt crisis, and cutting government jobs didn’t help things.
The British economy, which seemed to be recovering earlier in 2010, turned down again in the fourth quarter. Yes, weather was a factor, and, no, you shouldn’t read too much into one quarter’s numbers. But there’s certainly no sign of the surging private-sector confidence that was supposed to offset the direct effects of eliminating half-a-million government jobs. And, as a result, there’s no comfort in the British experience for Republican claims that the United States needs spending cuts in the face of mass unemployment.
So why are conservatives bashing Europe and warning that if we follow the European model we’ll surely fail? And why doesn’t Paul Ryan understand the European economic crises?Click here for reuse options!
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