These are the personal views of Peter Morici, a professor at the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business and former chief economist at the U.S. International Trade Commission:
If the U.S. government shuts down, the Republicans will likely get the blame but the American people will be the losers.
Federal finances are in a shambles and in need of radical overhaul. President Barack Obama’s budget ignores this; however, with a shutdown, he will be able to tar Republicans as ideologues, steal the initiative on spending and taxes, and leave his successor with a mess.
From 2007, the last full year before the financial crisis, to 2011, the second year of recovery, spending has jumped $1.1 trillion–40%. The president’s budget plan would trim the deficit to $774 billion by 2022, but his projections have been rejected as too optimistic by private economists and political analysts of all stripes–he assumes cost savings and new revenues from health-care reforms that are unlikely to materialize and a 4% economic growth through 2014, which few private economists endorse.
Most legitimate deficit reductions the president’s budget accomplishes are through higher taxes on the wealthy, and a new interest and dividend tax that will likely drive business investment and personal wealth offshore.
Higher taxes are not the answer. In 2011, spending is projected at $3.8 trillion and revenues at $2.2 trillion. A 50% increase in all taxes and fees–personal income, Social Security, Medicare, and corporate taxes, entry fees into national parks and the like–would leave the deficit at $560 billion. Even if phased in over several years, such a dramatic increase in taxes and fees would send the economy into a depression from which it would never recover.