Ben Stein’s fiscal policy

By Felix Salmon
September 20, 2010
Ben Stein in August 2008, when we were at the depths of the longest recession in postwar history:

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Here’s Ben Stein in August 2008, when we were at the depths of the longest recession in postwar history:

The unhappy fact is that it’s necessary to raise my taxes and the taxes of all upper-income Americans…

If we don’t raise taxes, if we keep doing what we’re doing, the immense deficits and debt will not go away — and will probably grow.

The question is simply this: Do we want to step up to the plate like responsible people — I hate to say this, but the last responsible people who actually did this were named Bill and Bob (Clinton and Rubin) — and shoulder our responsibilities? Or do we just kick the can down the road a bit and leave the mess for our children and their children?

And if we do raise taxes, should people who are barely getting by pay them or should people who are getting by very nicely pay them?

I don’t like taxing rich people or anyone I like. But our government — run by the people we elected — needs the revenue. Do we pay it or do we make our children pay it? Dwight D. Eisenhower — and Bill Clinton — knew the answer: You behave responsibly and balance the budget except in rare circumstances.

And here’s Ben Stein in September 2010, 15 months after the recession ended:

In the midst of a severe recession, I am to have my taxes raised dramatically.

I am not quite sure what my sin is…

What I don’t get is this: There is no known economic theory under which raising my taxes in the midst of a severe recession will help the economy recover. It isn’t part of any well known monetarist or Keynesian theory. So if it does no good to raise our taxes, I assume we are being punished.

But for what? I don’t own slaves.

Good point, Ben. Let’s just raise taxes on slaveowners. That’ll do the trick.


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‘Bueller?’ Stein is an amoral lackwit who gives Nixon Republicans a bad name. I’d ignore him, myself. Though I guess getting him fired is good sport. Carry on, I suppose. Carry on.

Posted by wcw | Report as abusive


I’ve never seen it spelled like that before…

Posted by ottorock | Report as abusive

Felix, what ever happened to Ben’s show (Win Ben Stein’s Money): is that possibly a fairer way to dole out the spoils?

Posted by norge10 | Report as abusive

Now, I suppose, you’re going to claim this demonstrates that there’s a benefit to having read the Ben Stein archives. I disagree.

Posted by MattF | Report as abusive

Wow, “in the mids of a recession”? Even NBER said it was over over a year ago, and they are pretty conservative.

Posted by owe.jessen | Report as abusive

When Ben Stein (and aren’t his initials a happy coincidence?) pays taxes, he feels he is being punished, even though he is only paying his share toward keeping his country going. When he shops for groceries and goes through the checkout line, does he feel he is being punished for needing to eat? Why doesn’t he demand free food? Why shouldn’t everything we need–or desire–be free? Jeez, Ben Stein is nothing but a dirty little commie, isn’t he? On top of being a lackwit.

Posted by BobbyLip | Report as abusive