In an extremely interesting interview with New York Times Magazine about his economic legacy, President Obama delivered a stinging assessment of current conservative economic ideology and trashed the economic platforms of the Republican candidates running for president.
After extensively defending his own record with a highly nuanced and remarkably thoughtful account of his actions while in office, Obama turned his attention to how destructive the Republicans have been in blocking his attempts to reboot the economy after the crash in 2008, and took a wrecking ball to their philosophy of cutting taxes at all costs.
“If we can’t puncture some of the mythology around austerity, politics or tax cuts or the mythology that’s been built up around the Reagan revolution, where somehow people genuinely think that he slashed government and slashed the deficit and that the recovery was because of all these massive tax cuts, as opposed to a shift in interest-rate policy — if we can’t describe that effectively, then we’re doomed to keep on making more and more mistakes,” said the president to Andrew Ross Sorkin.
Then, Obama moved onto the current candidates who, he believes, are running on an economic platform so preposterous that you'd have to believe in miracles.
“If you look at the platforms, the economic platforms of the current Republican candidates for president, they don’t simply defy logic and any known economic theories, they are fantasy,” said Obama.
“Slashing taxes particularly for those at the very top, dismantling regulatory regimes that protect our air and our environment and then projecting that this is going to lead to 5 percent or 7 percent growth, and claiming that they’ll do all this while balancing the budget....Nobody would even, with the most rudimentary knowledge of economics, think that any of those things are plausible.”
Obama's evisceration of Republican economic philosophy should be required reading for all Americans, because it is, as Obama says, hugely important that the myth of tax cutting as policy be "punctured". The language he is now using helps the public understand in no uncertain terms that there is an alternative, and unfettered free market capitalism isn't a fact of life, but an unfortunate choice that can be reversed.
One of the more interesting parts of Obama's conversation with Sorkin was the president's take on the hatred he receives from ultra wealthy free market ideologues on Wall St who have "declared war" on Obama.
“One of the constants that I’ve had to deal with over the last few years is folks on Wall Street complaining even as the stock market went from in the 6,000s to 16,000 or 17,000,” he said. “They’d be constantly complaining about our economic policies. That’s not rooted in anything they’re experiencing; it has to do with ideology and their aggravations about higher taxes.”
And therein lies the ultimate criticism of conservative economics -- tax cuts and deregulation has nothing to do with real world effect -- it is an ideological belief system that is completely detached from reality, just as the Republican candidates running in 2016 are detached from the impact their policies would have on working people. Obama has pointed this out in no uncertain terms, giving Americans the tools to understand just how badly they have been duped.