Republicans are all about austerity. Their answer to economic recession is to cut spending—at least, as long as a Democrat is President. For Republicans, the recession of the last decade was an opportunity to do what they wanted to do anyway, which is to destroy the social safety net. Conservatives in Europe are the same. But facts are stubborn things.
Portugal’s economy has rebounded dramatically since its $83 billion European Union bailout in 2011. What’s surprising is that this has happened without austerity measures — the spending cuts and tax hikes that Portugal’s creditors, the EU and International Monetary Fund, said were the only way to survive Europe’s debt crisis.
Such measures were initially imposed by Portugal’s then center-right government, on orders from the EU and IMF. But when a left-wing, Socialist-led coalition took power in November 2015 and began canceling austerity — raising wages and lowering taxes — many economists warned Portugal would need a second bailout.
But that has not happened. Instead, the economy has posted 13 consecutive quarters of growth — beginning under the previous government, and surging during the current one. Its budget deficit has hit a 40-year record low of 2.1 percent of GDP, the first time Portugal’s deficit has dropped below EU limits.
Republicans spent a lot of time pretending that Obama was a socialist. This is what real socialists do. And it seems to work.