Does Greenspan Deserve Such Brown-Nosing?

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Does Greenspan Deserve Such Brown-Nosing?

Few things are more annoying than watching members of the U.S. House Financial Services Committee talk themselves silly as they sing the praises of Federal Reserve Board Chairman Alan Greenspan.

Watching a replay of last Wednesday's hearing on C-Span (I live a bohemian life, don't I?), I just heard Rep. Artur Davis (D-Ala.) heap praise on Greenspan for providing a "living seminar" on economics for young members of Congress like himself.

But particularly pathetic were the remarks by Rep. Steve Pearce (R-N.M.) who took his brown-nosing to such a level that he felt compelled to identify Greenspan as a "handsome" man. Yo, Congressman Pearce: hands off -- Greenspan already has a spouse.

Has Greenspan earned such lavish praise? That's not a rhetorical question -- I'm open to arguments that some of the 1990's economic expansion flowed from Fed interest rate policies. Still, this is Greenspan, the former Ayn Rand devotee who has remained steadfast in his support for the Bush tax cuts even as he acknowledged in March that "we were all wrong" in predicting future federal budget surpluses.

Of course, it's one thing to have supported these tax cuts, but it's another to pretend (as Greenspan has on occasion) that these tax breaks wouldn't have consequences for the federal budget. In 2004, for example, Greenspan told Congress, "I am for lower taxes and lower spending and lower deficits." Kind of like being for less toothbrushing and fewer cavities.

Sure, Greenspan says Congress should take swift action to reduce the deficit, but if you believe the Bush tax cuts should remain in place -- as he does -- such rules simply mean making massive cuts in spending. Such cuts would severely harm the health and education of millions of Americans.

This mean-spirited remedy is not a hero's prescription. And it sure as hell is not an "economic seminar" that should guide Congress' actions.

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