Thursday, October 15, 2009

The most reasonable conservative I've heard in a long time

Bruce Bartlett in this Bloggingheads video (embedded at the end of this post). He's plugging his new book, The New American Economy: The Failure of Reaganomics and a New Way Forward.

Here are a few of the points he makes in the video (paraphrased, not direct quotes). These are hardly original, but they're refreshing to hear from a conservative (he worked in the Reagan and first Bush administrations):

1. America needs to raise taxes. Conservative leaders know this will eventually be necessary, and they're being brazenly irresponsible by fighting against tax increases for now.

2. The idea that cutting taxes raises government revenue is a conservative myth. So is the idea that you can "starve the beast," i.e., cut taxes so that government spends less and deficits shrink.

3. We have the least efficient health-care system in the developed world.

4. The United States should become more like Europe.

On that last point, he calls out conservatives in a way that needs to be done more often:

We're traveling down the route of Europe. And many Americans just hate that idea. If you're in any group of conservatives, and you say, "Oh, that will take us down the route of Europe," they will say, "Oh no, we don't want to do that! That's awful!" Nobody ever explains what's so terrible about Europe.

By the way, I'm not saying I agree with everything he says here. I'm not convinced by his main idea, the value added tax. On the other hand, Matthew Yglesias makes the liberal case for it.