Friday, March 04, 2005

Greenspan's shit does smell

Bravo to Harry Reid for having the balls to call Alan Greenspan what he often is: "one of the biggest political hacks we have in Washington."

I'm not really informed enough to offer an educated opinion on Greenspan's monetary policy. But it does infuriate me that he can simultaneously issue express policy preferences that are pretty clearly unhealthy for the long-term economic health of our country (supposedly his job) while at the same time standing above partisan criticism.

Greenspan's public statements are often treated like the pronouncements of the Oracle at Delphi -- Our role is not to question, but to interpret his wisdom. But let's be honest: Greenspan, when he feels like it, is a political partisan. And like anyone who gets into the political arena, he needs to feel the heat, especially given how wrong-headed some of his views are.

I'm thinking, of course, of his support for Bush's tax cuts and his current support for personal accounts to partially replace the Social Security system. Regardless of whether private accounts or Bush's tax cuts are/were a good idea (they're not and they weren't), this clearly contradicts his advice for the government to get the deficit under control.

I think it's fine for the Fed chairman to argue in favor of dealing with deficits or reforming the tax code, since most economists can broadly agree such steps would improve the nation's economic health and they can be implemented in many different ways. But tax cuts and Social Secrity privatization don't accomplish such goals. They're policy preferences in line with Greenspan's apparent libertarian-leaning political views.

Greenspan should keep his mouth shut about these kinds of issues. Since he won't, I'm glad Democrats are treating him like the partisan conservative he is being.

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