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Forget Perry's gaffe; worry about his economic agenda

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Paul Sancya/AP

(Read caption) Republican presidential candidates Texas Gov. Rick Perry speaks during a Republican Presidential Debate at Oakland University in Auburn Hills, Mich.

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Ok, so Gov Perry had a senior moment in Wednesday's debate. It happens. Frankly, as someone who actually thinks these agencies do useful stuff, I’m glad when they can’t remember which ones they want to close.

And I can think of much better reasons than a memory lapse as to why the Texas gov’s agenda is wholly incompatible with the direction in which the country needs to head.  Like his tax plan that loses $570 billion per year by delivering massive tax cuts to those at the tippy top of the income scale (i.e., a $1.5 million cut for households with avg income of $8.4 million).  As if the low aftertax income of the richest households is America’s biggest problem.

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In fact, all I heard in terms of policy ideas in last night’s debate was all the different ways in which we can’t or shouldn’t address any of the real economic problems we face.  It’s all repeal (health care and financial reform), cut (taxes on corporations and the wealthy), ignore (housing, student debt, Europe), shut down agencies (well, nuff said there…), etc…

In a debate on the economy, I can’t think of anything I heard that might actually help the economy (the one exception was Gov Romney on China currency management).  I suppose someone could raise the drilling stuff they talked about, but even there, regardless of how you feel about that as a national energy strategy, I simply don’t see how oil and gas extractors face an undue burden.  To the contrary, they already receive billions in subsidies through the tax code.

Like it or not, we live in the most interconnected world that’s probably ever existed.  Markets fail in ways that amplify risk and contagion, requiring vigilant regulation.  American job growth was inadequate in the last expansion, even before we hit the Great Recession.  Public policy must address the surge in inequality, as it poses a fundamental threat to our basic social contract.

If there was ever a time to turn to trickle-down economics, deregulation of financial and health markets, regressive tax cuts, self-regulating industries, and drill, drill, drill…this definitely isn’t it.