Gridlock vs. Compromise on the Deficit
By Arnold Kling
Suffice it to say, the thought of Chinese military officials deciding on how large a military the U.S. is allowed to retain is a sobering thought.
But that, alas, is a foreseeable outcome from the brand of rejectionist politics that has captured the imagination of a growing number of Americans on the right and the left, and which is fueling Newt Gingrich’s success in this year’s presidential campaign.
Political gridlock is the main theme of the five papers that were written about the prospects for a U.S. debt crisis and that appeared in Econ Journal Watch. All five of us see a debt crisis, if it comes about, as resulting from gridlock.
Ordinarily, advocates of limited government say that gridlock is our friend. But four out of the five of us see it as our enemy right now. The exception is Jeffrey Rogers Hummel, who looks at the bright side of a default. It would truly “starve the beast,” because borrowing costs would become prohibitive in the absence of credible commitment to maintain something much closer to a balanced budget. It is an interesting point of view, but I cannot say that I am persuaded that other things will remain equal (what if a default causes an American version of Hugo Chavez to emerge?).
Unlike Reihan, I do not see this issue as affecting my views on the Presidential election. For one thing, I am not sure which electoral outcome is most likely to overcome gridlock on the budget. And I am not even sure that Hummel is wrong. If you want election commentary, instead of looking to me, I recommend Will Wilkinson’s take.
Reihan and I hope to record a video conference with two of the other authors later this week. Hummel appears to be unavailable. Nick Schulz should be back joining us.