Paul Krugman: Texas is a failed experiment in "reverse Robin-Hood" economic policy

Giving to the rich and brutalizing the poor is not, it turns out, a sound plan for economic growth

Published June 5, 2015 12:04PM (EDT)

                      (Reuters/Tim Shaffer)
(Reuters/Tim Shaffer)

Following the news that former Texas Governor Rick Perry is throwing his hat into the Republican primary, New York Times columnist Paul Krugman decided to look back at the so-called "Texas miracle" that Perry used to establish his economic credentials in his failed 2012 bid for the GOP nomination.

Conservatives, Krugman argues, "have long held up Texas as a supposed demonstration that low taxes on the rich and harsh treatment of the poor are the keys to prosperity." But the real engine of Texas' economy isn't its fiscal policy -- it's oil.

Even though Texas' economy has diversified in recent years, Krugman writes, one-third is still dependent on the hydrocarbon industry, and the sustained dip in oil prices has crippled the state. Its "reverse Robin-Hood" fiscal policies were supposed to insulate the state against market vagaries, but they simply haven't.

The belief, Krugman concludes, "that tax cuts are a universal elixir that cures all economic ills is the ultimate zombie idea — one that should have died long ago in the face of the facts, but just keeps shambling along."

The states, Louis Brandeis famously declared, are the laboratories of democracy. In fact, Mr. Brownback himself described his plan as an “experiment” that would demonstrate the truth of his economic doctrine. What it actually did, however, was demonstrate the opposite — and much the same message is coming from other laboratories, from the stumble in Texas to the comeback in California...

Nothing that has happened in the past quartercentury has supported tax-cut mania, yet the doctrine’s hold on the Republican Party is stronger than ever. It would be foolish to expect recent events to make much difference.

Still, the spectacle of the Texas economy coming back to earth, and Kansas sliding over the edge should at the very least make right-wing bombast ring hollow, in the general election if not in the primary. And someday, maybe, even conservatives will once again become willing to look at the facts.

Read the rest at the New York Times...

By Scott Eric Kaufman

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Economics Elections 2016 Paul Krugman Rick Perry Texas