Le juste milieu budgétaire

PALO ALTO – Les élections se jouent souvent sur l'état de l'économie, notamment en périodes de difficulté. Lorsque la croissance et l'emploi sont en baisse, les électeurs ont tendance à le faire payer à leurs gouvernants – qu'il s'agisse de la gauche espagnole, de la droite française, ou du centre néerlandais. Les États-Unis ne font pas exception à cette règle. Trois ans après le début de la Grande dépression, Herbert Hoover fut écrasé par Franklin Delano Roosevelt. En 1980, à la suite d'une grave crise de stagflation, Ronald Reagan mit Jimmy Carter en déroute.

Dans le même temps, la performance économique dépend, dans une mesure considérable, de la politique économique. La Grande dépression fut aggravée par la faiblesse des politiques monétaires, par des hausses d'impôts, et par des politiques commerciales protectionnistes. De même, la politique monétaire hasardeuse des États-Unis au milieu de la dernière décennie a contribué à poser les fondations de la Grande récession en participant significativement à une explosion du levier, et en alimentant la bulle immobilière qui allait éclater en 2007-2008.

L’issue de deux batailles politiques, liées, sera cruciale dans la perspective économique et politique aux États-Unis et en Europe. La première se joue entre « austérité » et « croissance » – c'est-à-dire une réduction des déficits à court terme et une stimulation fiscale supplémentaire. Beaucoup à gauche, des deux côtés de l'Atlantique, font valoir que davantage de dépenses gouvernementales, plutôt que de moindres dépenses, seraient nécessaires pour sortir l’économie de la récession. À droite, on estime que la priorité première des gouvernements devrait être l’assainissement budgétaire.

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