My NPR Non-Appearance
By Arnold Kling
Earlier today, I got an email from someone at NPR asking if I was available to comment on the President’s speech afterward. I replied with my phone number, and the woman called me (not an on-air personality. I will withhold her name.) She started asking me my opinions on various things. When she asked my opinion on having Federal agencies refinance everyone’s mortgage, I said that I thought that homeowners had already had enough subsidies thrown at them. She replied, “But I have friends with underwater mortgages!” She simply could not conceive of anyone holding my views.
An hour later, she left a voice mail saying sorry, but it was not going to work for me to appear on the show. She said they would keep me in mind and perhaps use me some other time. After hell freezes over would be my guess.
My sense is that the proposals in the speech were a mix of some good and some bad. But I thought the President over-promised on what they would accomplish. I think people are getting sort of tired of that, but it could be just me.
If you made me evaluate the ideas as a single package, my criterion would be this: does it give more money and power to Washington, or does it take some away? If it’s the latter, then I am for it. I suspect not, though, so I would probably lean against the overall program. I like the idea of corporate tax reform.
I worry about having the government refinance a ton of mortgages at really low rates. If rates subsequently rise, as taxpayers we would face huge capital losses (the homeowners would benefit). The last thing the budget needs is more exposure to an increase in interest rates.
I worry about using future spending cuts to pay for current tax cuts and spending increases. If we were starting from a sustainable budget path, then ok. But until you come up with enough future spending cuts to make our current promises manageable, I don’t think it should be legitimate to make new promises.
Anyway, I don’t like blogging about current political issues. But the NPR mixup got me thinking about it.