As I flipped though the New York Times Sunday Magazine, I was shocked to find a full-page interview with Rep. David Brat. The Times usually does not pay much attention to House freshmen, but Brat has created a high profile for himself by becoming an outspoken member of the “Freedom Caucus” of ultra-right wing Republicans that recently promoted the resignation of Speaker John Boehner of Ohio.
The interview was amazingly short on policy as Brat seemed to want to dwell on his knowledge of philosophy rather than on governing. The brief outline that he did give of policy consisted of not raising the debt limit, lowering taxes, and bulking up the military. Brat refused to say how he would accomplish these goals, which taken into totality seem to defy simple math. How is he able to lower taxes and hike defense spending, without significant cuts in the rest of the budget? One doesn’t need a PhD in econometrics, to see that the numbers don’t add up: witness the presidency of George W. Bush and the deficit fiasco that followed.
Brat seemed to be critical of popular culture. In the interview, he bemoaned what he perceived as a paucity of movies “capturing the highlight of Western tradition.” It seems that the congressman has forgotten that the purpose of free speech is to put all ideas in the public sphere. Spoken by a federal legislator, this type of media criticism is nothing if not disturbing.
Brat, as most economists, is a fan of Adam Smith who in 1776, published Wealth of Nations, which described the fundamental workings of market-based economies, but Brat transforms the questions about the application of Smith’s principals to today’s complex problems into a criticism of European economies. Perhaps Dr. Brat is unfamiliar with the classic article written by Robert Mondell, the theory of optimal currency unions, and compares this work with the European Union’s plan to implement the Euro. Brat, this “scholar–his word”, should compare the present Euro zone that demonstrates the results of the type of austerity that Brat seems to advocate, with low inflation, but near-zero growth and very high rates of unemployment.
This guy should represent Disneyland!
— D. Leslie Schreiber
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