Greenspan the Partisan Crank

I have strong memories of Alan Greenspan’s bizarro justification in 2001 for insisting that we stop running federal budget surpluses. It was convoluted, it didn’t make sense, and it was pretty obvious partisan hackery. But I confess that either I’ve forgotten, or I never quite realized, just how eccentric it really was. “I’ve seen theories this convoluted and loopy before,” says Jon Chait, after reminding us of Greenspan’s concluding flourish, “But they’ve usually been scrawled in long-hand by random cranks who mail letters to magazines.” No kidding.

UPDATE: Just out curiosity, is there anyone around today who actually defends Greenspan’s position back then? Maybe Larry Kudlow or Donald Luskin? Anyone?


Mother Jones was founded as a nonprofit in 1976 because we knew corporations and the wealthy wouldn’t fund the type of hard-hitting journalism we set out to do.

Today, reader support makes up about two-thirds of our budget, allows us to dig deep on stories that matter, and lets us keep our reporting free for everyone. If you value what you get from Mother Jones, please join us with a tax-deductible donation so we can keep on doing the type of journalism that 2018 demands.

Donate Now