Friday, September 24, 2004

Kerry on the Economy, Allawi

NRO's Bruce Bartlett has a critique of Kerry's economic plan. The quick summary is that there isn't one, at least not one that makes any sense. Bartlett writes:

Last week, Kerry made an effort to present a coherent economic plan. In a Wall Street Journal article entitled, "My Economic Policy," he made his case. It has four key elements: create good jobs, cut middle class taxes and health costs, restore America's competitive edge, and cut the deficit and restore economic confidence.

He then analyzes each of these four proposals and concludes that they are little more than political rhetoric. His promise to create jobs, for example, is based on ending outsourcing, but it's not clear that the advantages of this would outweigh the disadvantages:

Kerry's proposal to create jobs involves reducing outsourcing by closing a tax provision that he believes encourages U.S. companies to invest abroad. The $12 billion per year that this would raise would be used to reduce the corporate tax rate slightly. He would also reinstate a failed tax credit for new jobs and crack down on imports from China and elsewhere., a respected independent forecasting service, looked at these tax provisions and concluded that their net impact on job creation would be "very modest." On the other hand, Kerry's implied protectionism could be very damaging to economic growth. Renowned Columbia University economist Jagdish Bhagwati calls Kerry's trade policy "muddled and maddening" and "the voodoo economics of our time."

He closes his column with these words:

In the end, all John Kerry has is the charge that everything George W. Bush has done on the economy has been wrong. This may be enough for hard-core Democrats and Bush-haters. But anyone who is remotely open-minded is going to have a hard time believing that Kerry will do better. He would have helped himself by proposing something bolder and more interesting. You can't beat something with nothing.

The critique of the other three points is helpful, as well. It seems that Kerry's problem is that once he gets past criticizing Bush for everything he can think of he has really nothing to offer in his place. All he gives us are vague platitudes about how he'd do better.

Given the lack of a solid counter to Bush on the economy and other issues, he's decided to attack Bush on the war in Iraq where he hopes that he can still get some traction by heightening fears that Iraq is descending into chaos. This is why he was so quick to criticize Allawi's speech yesterday. Allawi claimed that the situation in Iraq is much better than the media portrays it, and Kerry couldn't let that notion take root in the public mind. Thus, in a rather unseemly act of disrespect for a man who is working hard to bring freedom and democracy to his people in the face of a very good chance of being murdered every day, Kerry, who didn't even show enough courtesy to attend the session to which Allawi spoke, essentially accused him of fabricating his story.

This strikes us as a sign of desperation. Why couldn't Kerry have been gracious enough to at least offer Allawi his support and good wishes and wait until he was back home before he attacked the man's claims? For the Kerry campaign there's nothing good happening in Iraq and anyone who says there is, is lying. Allawi is a genuine hero, even if he doesn't have a wall full of dubious citations, and all Kerry can do is criticize him, challenge his credibility, and embarrass him when he visits this country to thank us for what we've done for the Iraqi people. It's sad and pathetic.