By John Cochrane
Excerpt from the Wall Street Journal:
No matter who wins Tuesday’s presidential election, now ought to be the time that policy makers in Washington come together to tackle America’s greatest economic problem: sclerotic growth. The recession ended more than seven years ago. Unemployment has returned to normal levels. Yet gross domestic product is rising at half its postwar average rate. Achieving better growth is possible, but it will require deep structural reforms.
The policy worthies have said for eight years: stimulus today, structural reform tomorrow. Now it’s tomorrow, but novel excuses for stimulus keep coming. “Secular stagnation” or “hysteresis” account for slow growth. Prosperity demands more borrowing and spending—even on bridges to nowhere—or deliberate inflation or negative interest rates. Others advocate surrender. More growth is impossible. Accept and manage mediocrity.
But for those willing to recognize the simple lessons of history, slow growth is not hard to diagnose or to cure. The U.S. economy suffers from complex, arbitrary and politicized regulation. The ridiculous tax system and badly structured social programs discourage work and investment. Even internet giants are now running to Washington for regulatory favors.
If you think robust growth is impossible, consider a serious growth-oriented policy program—one that could even satisfy many of the left’s desires.
• Taxes. The ideal tax system raises revenue for the government while distorting economic decisions as little as possible. A pure tax on consumption, with no corporate, income, estate, or other taxes is pretty close to that ideal.
Read more in the Wall Street Journal