Lecciones de la imprudencia fiscal de Estados Unidos

George W. Bush ha contribuido más a la ruina de la política económica de EEUU que ningún otro presidente de la historia estadounidense, incluso superando a su mentor, Ronald Reagan. En apenas tres años en el poder, ha destruido un frágil consenso político para cuya construcción había sido necesaria una década, y que podría tomar otra década reconstruir. Al hacerlo, Bush ha puesto en riesgo la estabilidad social y la solidez económica de largo plazo de los Estados Unidos. Puesto que los desafíos presupuestarios de largo plazo que EEUU está manejando de tan mala manera no son exclusivos, los errores fiscales de EEUU proporcionan importantes lecciones para otros países.

El principal problema con la política fiscal es que los políticos se pueden hacer populares temporalmente al reducir los impuestos y aumentar el gasto público, generando una enorme deuda pública y dejando su pago para el futuro. Este truco puede durar unos cuantos años, pero más temprano que tarde los défitits presupuestarios y la creciente deuda pública obligarán a dar dolorosos pasos atrás en esta política. No obstante, un político cínico puede lograr su reelección y quizás ya estar retirado cuando explote la crisis.

Uno se podría imaginar que, después de cientos de episodios similares de irresponsabilidad fiscal en todo el mundo en las décadas pasadas, los votantes serían alérgicos a trucos como estos. Y, sin embargo, Bush lo está haciendo de nuevo, comprando popularidad al repartir masivas reducciones de impuestos, al tiempo que simultáneamente aumenta el gasto militar e incluso eleva el gasto de educación y salud. El resultado es un déficit presupuestario equivalente a más del 5% del PGB.

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