Is it economics or is it politics that drives the deficit hawks?

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As Simon Jenkins in the Guardian asks:

Why is there no economist royal, to shoot in time of trouble? We need someone to tell us clearly whether George Osborne, in next week's budget, is going to save the economy or ruin it. The hawks and doves cannot both be true. The first say the chancellor will slash public spending, restore Britain's financial credit and secure swift economic recovery. The second say he will slash public spending, increase unemployment, cut demand and wreck economic recovery. Is the difference political or intellectual? Someone must know.

Let me assure you Simon the difference is not economics, it’s purely politics

No economics can justify the position the deficit hawks, or even the deficit doves are taking.

I can assure you then  it’s purely politics, and a very nasty politics at that. If you doubt me  look at what Tory think tank Reform has written today (report from Reuters):

U.K. Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne should cut funding for health, education and jobless benefits and reduce taxes for the rich in his emergency budget next week, the Reform research institute said.

Reform, which includes lawmakers on its advisory board from both the Conservative and Liberal Democrat parties that make up the U.K.’s governing coalition, said the chancellor should also increase sales tax on children’s clothes and food while means- testing or cutting benefits for families and the elderly.

“Tackling the deficit will be an undeniably painful process given the size of the deficit, the inefficiency of the public sector and the overreach of the government,” Andrew Haldenby, Reform’s director, said in an e-mailed statement. “The pain should be shared across society.”

Their aim: £20bn out of health, £13bn out of benefits and VAT increases – including on items where the impact is bound to be very heavily on the poorest in the community. All matched by tax cuts for the best off.

This is not about sharing pain – pain the poorest did not create. This is about using using a crisis created by the greed of the wealthiest to role back the state and capture more of its income for those with wealth.

This is ugly class politics.

And this is about undermining the state.

Oh, and it’s about the economics of ignorance if it’s not: an ignorance of economics that is unimaginable if they really do genuinely hold the view that what they do will cut the deficit.