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Political economics

Posted: August 14, 2012 5:56 p.m.
Updated: August 15, 2012 5:00 a.m.

Mitt Romney’s selection of Paul Ryan as his running mate will turn the presidential campaign into one centered around economic policy, though Democrats will certainly try to make it about social issues. We hope it will stimulate serious discussion about this country’s spiraling deficit and the unsustainability of the economy if the United States doesn’t get a handle on its debt. Of course, how to reduce that debt is framed in different ways by the two parties, and so far there has been little effort by either to try to come to compromise. Democrats insist that taxing high-income people is the cure-all, though doing so will barely make a dent in the deficit, while Republicans insist taxing anyone is anathema.

Democrats and President Obama, who have displayed a mean spirit that demeans the highest office in the land (have you seen the ad blaming Romney for the death of a mill worker’s wife?) refuse to admit that the country is on a crash course with bankruptcy. Republicans refuse to admit that the budget can’t be brought under control unless more money is raised through taxation as well as entitlement cuts. Both parties exhibit a head-in-the-sand approach.

We suppose it’s folly to expect Democrats to admit Medicare and Social Security are unsustainable, though they know that, or to expect Republicans to admit that dividends should be taxed at a higher rate than paychecks. Locked in intractable positions, they will probably fight to the end for their ideological goals (and it is hypocritical for Democrats to continue to brand Republicans as ideologues, as if they weren’t) while the country will continue down an economic highway to ruin.

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