Glenn Hubbard ignores some inconvenient facts

Writing in today’s Wall Street Journal about how to reduce government spending, Columbia University economist and former chairman of George W. Bush’s Council of Economic Advisors R. Glenn Hubbard chooses to disregard some important facts.

According to Hubbard, “President Obama’s answer is higher taxes.”

Well, not exactly.  What President Obama proposed was a combination of tax increases (primarily falling upon those with higher incomes), plus cuts in government programs, including cuts in such sacred cows as the social safety net.  Although Hubbard may disagree with the relative size of tax increases and spending cuts suggested by the president, it is wrong to characterize the president as saying that the answer lies only in higher taxes.

Hubbard continues: “The obvious place to begin is repealing ObamaCare and its expansion of spending.”  If by ObamaCare Hubbard means the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act–which is what most critics mean when they talk about ObamaCare–Hubbard is mistaken.  According to the Congressional Budget Office(CBO), ObamaCare should reduce the government budget deficit.

When the new Republican majority took over the House this past January, they immediately introduced H.R. 2, the Repealing the Job-Killing Health Care Law Act (nice title!).  The CBO’s preliminary analysis of that stated: “Because CBO and JCT estimated that the March 2010 health care legislation would reduce budget deficits over the 2010–2019 period and in subsequent years, we expect that repealing that legislation would increase budget deficits.”

There are some useful ideas when you go further into the Hubbard op-ed.  I disagree with a lot of them, but they should certainly be part of the debate on how to attack our budget deficit.  Nonetheless, Hubbard should be able to motivate his arguments and stay closer to the facts.