Washington has us confused again.
Part of our confusion may result from the fact that we don't understand the economy very well. It may also result from the fact that people in Washington don't understand the economy very well either. When the President tells us about the economy, everyone just assumes he understands it. Everyone assumes he knows what he is doing. The trouble is, we don't have any proof.
For instance, our big question of the day is, what happened to President Reagan's tax cut? Maybe we misunderstood, but we definitely got the impression the President was elected mostly because he promised to cut everyone's taxes. We felt sure that by the end of the third year we would be paying hardly anything.
Our memory probably isn't as good as a politicians', but it was in his State of the Union message -- or somewhere -- that Mr. Reagan explained he was against higher taxes. He said that raising taxes hardly ever resulted in balancing the budget, so he promised to bring taxes down and keep them down. He may have even said, ''I will stand on my word.'' Anyway, we have noticed he has been sitting down during most of his speeches since then.
We have mislaid our notes, but we thought he promised a tax cut of a cool $ 450 billion. It sounded like something definite at the time. Even Congress went along with it. Maybe even Senator Baker. Well, they not only went along with the big tax cut, they even made it bigger by adding billions.
Lately, we haven't heard anything about the tax cut. Instead of a cut, Washington says there will be a $99 billion tax increase.
Or maybe they are planning on doing both. No telling what can happen these days, with computers.
That is why we are confused about the economy. What started as a $450 billion tax cut is now a $99 billion dollar increase. This seems like quite a change. Even weather forecasters do better.
This means that we have misunderstood what they are saying in Washington, or that they don't understand what they are saying themselves, or that they are feeding the public a lot of baloney. What makes this last possiblility so awful, is that the public doesn't seem to recognize the taste of baloney any more.
Evidently they think it's that ''chicken in every pot'' which was promised so long ago.