Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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February 22, 2004
By: Kevin Drum

MAKING OUR KIDS PAY....In the past, one of the standard arguments against deficit spending was that it saddled our kids with enormous debts. This was obviously bad and irresponsible behavior.

But has anyone else noticed that it's becoming common to see conservatives turn this on its head and argue instead that deficit spending is OK because, after all, it's only fair that future generations should help pay for things that they are going to benefit from too? For example, our kids will benefit from a terror free world, so it's well and good that they pick up part of the tab for our current fight against terrorism. Ditto for building roads, procuring new military goodies, fighting AIDS, etc.

Oh, and our children will be richer than us anyway and thus better able to afford paying for this stuff. (Although I note that conservatives are notoriously unsympathetic to the "better able to afford" argument when it comes to higher tax rates on the super rich.)

Anyway, the upshot is that deficits aren't just a necessarily evil, they are positively virtuous since they spread costs between generations. I did a double take when I first saw someone propose this obviously self-serving and specious argument seriously, but since then I've seen it several more times. Do you suppose it's on its way to becoming a standard conservative talking point?

Kevin Drum 6:06 PM Permalink | Trackbacks

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