Of course we already do that through inflation, however Gerald P. O’Discoll, former adviser to the Fed, writes in the Wall Street Journal that we’re at a tipping point:
As Milton Friedman long ago taught us, government spending is the ultimate tax on the economy: It extracts real resources from productive, private use and puts them to unproductive, public use. And there is the rub.
Not even a President Obama and a Congress controlled by House Speaker Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Reid is going to hike taxes enough to pay for all their spending. Indeed, they have shown themselves quite unwilling to engage in honest budgeting. The best example is saddling Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac with $500 million of new (off-budget) obligations to fund cheap housing at a time when the two companies were already on the ropes. Is it any wonder the stock prices of these two companies are imploding?
The markets have long assessed the debt of Fannie and Freddie at AAA because of the Treasury’s guarantee, now explicit. But no one has ever seriously assessed the Treasury’s creditworthiness with Fannie and Freddie on its books. The public guarantee is entirely open-ended and unbounded. The appetite of the two companies to balloon their balance sheets and take on risk has not been curtailed. Meanwhile, Congress spends apace with new programs for constituents in an election year.
We are at a Smithian moment, in which the temptation for the Fed to spend its last dime of credibility may prove irresistible. Investors are already being taxed by inflation and can rationally expect that tax rate (the inflation rate) to be raised going forward. Wages are not keeping up. Main Street is being taxed to fund Wall Street excess. Anyone who works, saves and invests is exposed to confiscation of his capital and earnings through inflation.
If the Fed maintained its independence of action and said no to the inflationary finance of Congress’s profligacy, we wouldn’t have reached this point. But the Fed has forsaken that independence amid an absence of leadership.
By the way, as recently as February McCain said he wanted more inflation.