National Review Writer Takes on Supply Side Myths

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"National Review Writer Takes on Supply Side Myths"

ronaldreagan-1

It’s worth noting that not everyone who writes for National Review is as dumb as Jonah Goldberg. For example, today Ross Douthat links to a pretty good NR article by Kevin Williamson dedicated to debunking some supply-side myths. It’s a good piece, and I hope conservatives read it.

What I hope doesn’t happen—but fear will—is that conservatives generally won’t read it, conservatives generally will keep peddling the same nonsense they’ve been selling for 30 years, and then when some liberal complains that American conservatism is dominated by cranks and morons someone from the smart set will point to Williamson’s article as an example of how that’s not true. So it’s worth noting that supply side mythology didn’t just come from nowhere. Here’s Larry Kudlow pimping it in NRO. And here’s Thomas Nugent in NRO. And Donald Luskin. One could go on.

At any rate, Williamson deserves credit for his piece. But the piece downplays the extent to which the myths he debunks are utterly central to conservative politics. He argues, for example, that there’s a real sense in which the Reagan tax cuts “didn’t happen” since there were no spending reductions. There’s something to be said for that point of view, but it makes utterly nonsense of the mainstream conservative story about the past 30 years’ worth of US domestic policy. Maybe Williamson is downplaying the bite of his argument on a “you catch more flies with honey” but realistically I think it’s just a sign that intelligent conservatives have little intention of doing battle with the charlatans who dominate their movement.

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