A Bush-apologist economist I occasionally read keeps talking about how the EITC is more effective than the minimum wage at providing incentives for the very poor to work. I just added the following comment:
You misunderstand the point.
Group A advocates that we increase the minimum wage. They’re serious. They’re really trying to do it.
Group B says “that’s stupid; just raise the EITC instead”. They’re not serious. They have no intention of raising the EITC.
Group B, when in power, did and continues to do nothing to raise the EITC. Hence, disingenuous.
Even if raising the EITC worked as well as its proponents claim, today, it’s just a stalking horse, because its proponents have no intention at all of doing it.
Parallels abound. For instance, in most cities planning light-rail lines, you always end up with a group pushing for fully elevated transit – and if you dig hard enough you find that the guys who don’t want any transit at all form about half of that group.
It’s not just Austin where this happens, but of course, Austin is where we live. I’d say about half of the impetus behind the “build elevated transit, not grade-level transit” (whether grade-level is bad streetcar, good light-rail, or mediocre commuter-rail) comes from road warriors who find the naive but well-meaning monorail crew useful cover. Not to say that there aren’t people on the monorail side who really believe it’s what we need – my former colleague Patrick Goetz is certainly one of them – but whenever discussions come up of the “why would we build rail on the ground?” type, you can always dig a bit deeper and find some guys who really don’t want any rail transit at all.