It’s the revenue, stupid
February 22, 2011 2 Comments
So, I’ve been grading midterms from my Distance Ed Public Policy class and the first question is about the deficit. For starters, definitely shows the problem of teaching a Distance Ed class in such a dynamic discipline as Political Science. The students watch streaming lectures that were recorded when I taught the class in Spring 2009. The basic facts I explained about the deficit then are still very much on point. Alas, the political discussion as of today has gone in an entirely unexpected direction. Clearly, a lot of my students are more influenced the the hyperbolic political rhetoric on the deficit today than on my more sober and realistic explanation of things from two years ago. Also, reflecting the changing political dialog– in most semesters a good number of students, including many Republicans, advocate more taxes to address the deficit, but this time around that’s much less common.
Additionally, all the deficit talk is about spending, spending, spending, when the truth of the matter is that, for the most part, our huge deficits are due to massively declining federal revenue from the shrinking and then painfully slow economic growth. Obviously (as the likes of Krugman and my favorite bloggers have repeatedly pointed out), then, the key is to really do all we can to get the economy growing. Cutting public TV/Radio budgets and planned parenthood isn’t exactly going to do that. If this was a “real” class, I could make that point to my students fairly clearly during class sessions. Alas, when most of their interactions with me are via lectures from two years ago supplemented by the occasional email link and discussion forum post, it’s pretty hard to do this.