Nicholas Kristof's New York Times column today says:
If you want to see how Romney's economic policies would work out, take a look at Europe. And weep.
In the last few years, Germany and Britain, in particular, have implemented precisely the policies that Romney favors, and they have been richly praised by Republicans here as a result. Yet these days those economies seem, to use a German technical term, kaput....Britain's economy is contracting this year....Britain chose Republican-endorsed austerity...America's economy is now the fastest growing among major countries in the West, and Britain's is shrinking.
There are at least three things wrong with that analysis.
First, Britain's economy isn't shrinking. The United Kingdom's Office for National Statistics this morning released its preliminary estimate for the third quarter, which said that "GDP was estimated to have increased by 1.0 per cent in Q3 2012 compared with Q2 2012." "Recession ends amid Olympic Games boost" was the headline Sky News put on it.
Second, Britain did not implement "precisely" the policies Romney favors. The British "conservatives," advised by some of Barack Obama's campaign consultants, kept in place a 50% income tax rate on the highest earners. That's more like the policy Mr. Obama favors than the one Mr. Romney favors, and it's working out so poorly that even the conservatives are hoping to get rid of it by lowering the rate next year.
Third, it's not accurate that "America's economy is now the fastest growing among major countries in the West." For the second quarter — the most recent reported by all the countries in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development — Turkey grew at 1.8%, Chile, at 1.7%, Norway, at 1.2%, Mexico, at 0.9%, Israel, at 0.8%, Sweden at 0.7%, Canada at 0.5%, and the United States at 0.3%. The United States' growth rate in the second quarter and in the first quarter of 2012 was the same as Germany's, according to the OECD. How is it possible for Mr. Kristof to take the identical growth rate in Germany and the United States and declare it the product of failed austerity in Germany and successful stimulus in America?