Bell Curve The Law Talking Guy Raised by Republicans U.S. West
Well, he's kind of had it in for me ever since I accidentally ran over his dog. Actually, replace "accidentally" with "repeatedly," and replace "dog" with "son."

Monday, September 06, 2004

"Economically Republican"

Have you ever talked to a social moderate who's a Republican and asked why? You probably received the answer "I'm economically Republican." (I have heard an inordinate number of gays say this) I thought I'd break down what this means; the answer is not easy anymore.

Back in the day, it was clear what Democrats and Republicans wanted to do economically. I probably don't need to remind you, but Democrats were generally known as "tax and spend", wanting a big government but raising taxes to offset the costs. Republicans, on the other hand, were the "small government" party -- cutting taxes but also relegating power to the states to cut costs for the federal government.

Now what? Well, Bush has developed into a "borrow and spend" president, cutting taxes while spending enormous amounts of money he doesn't have. We know what Nobel laureates in Economics think about this: "[Bush has] embarked on a reckless and extreme course that endangers the long-term economic health of our nation." Kerry, on the other hand, has promised to cut taxes for most Americans while raising taxes on the rich to offset the deficit -- he has even pronounced it: "I'm a fiscal conservative."

So we have a social reactionary with a policy of fiscal nonsense versus a social moderate-to-liberal who's fiscally moderate-to-conservative. Where does this leave these so-called "economically Republicans"? One of them, Andrew Sullivan (his site is highly recommended) puts it this way:

"... Conservatism as we have known it is now over. People like me who became conservatives because of the appeal of smaller government and more domestic freedom are now marginalized in a big-government party, bent on using the power of the state to direct people's lives, give them meaning and protect them from all dangers. Just remember all that Bush promised [at the RNC]: an astonishingly expensive bid to spend much more money to help people in ways that conservatives once abjured. He pledged to provide record levels of education funding, colleges and healthcare centers in poor towns, more Pell grants, seven million more affordable homes, expensive new HSAs, and a phenomenally expensive bid to reform the social security system. I look forward to someone adding it all up, but it's easily in the trillions. And Bush's astonishing achievement is to make the case for all this new spending, at a time of chronic debt (created in large part by his profligate party), while pegging his opponent as the "tax-and-spend" candidate. The chutzpah is amazing. At this point, however, it isn't just chutzpah. It's deception. To propose all this knowing full well that we cannot even begin to afford it is irresponsible in the deepest degree. I've said it before and I'll say it again: the only difference between Republicans and Democrats now is that the Bush Republicans believe in Big Insolvent Government and the Kerry Democrats believe in Big Solvent Government. By any measure, that makes Kerry - especially as he has endorsed the critical pay-as-you-go rule on domestic spending - easily the choice for fiscal conservatives. It was also jaw-dropping to hear this president speak about tax reform. Bush? He has done more to lard up the tax code with special breaks and new loopholes than any recent president. On this issue - on which I couldn't agree more - I have to say I don't believe him. Tax reform goes against the grain of everything this president has done so far. Why would he change now?"


Raised By Republicans said...

I have said things like this for a while on this blog. This is not your father's Republican Party. This incarnation of the Republican party is for things that Republicans of 30 years ago would not have been excited about. In many ways the Republican party has become a party of social traditionalists and nationalists. The cavalier attitude towards civil liberties comes immediately to mind and I'm alarmed that Sulivan doesn't really seem bothered by it.

RE: Both parties wanting big government. That is a tragic over simplification. The two parties want that big government to do radically different things. The Demcorats want a big government that helps people get health care, education etc. The Republicans want a big government that makes sure Gay people aren't treated equally, illeagal immigrants are free to pick strawberries but not to drive or go to school, and big business is subsidized and protected from liability.

Raised By Republicans said...

By the way, speaking of deception...I'm not sure this posting was really written by Bell Curve. Andrew Sullivan is the favorite "moderate" of Dr. Werner von "Brawn." (aka the other political scientist).

I've never been that impressed with Sulivan. I don't understand moderates who continue to vote Republicans now that that party is so dominated by anti-market right wingers who favor big business and traditional social values (hmmm, sounds like a definition of fascism to me).

Bell Curve said...

It's funny you say that, because Sullivan has declared his support for Kerry and said that after Zell Miller's speech, he could never be a Republican.

My point (which I forgot to make) is that there are probably two kinds of "economic Republicans": fiscal conservatives like Sullivan, and people who just want lower taxes. The first group is slowly starting to realize that current Republicans do not fit their desires (I suspect Sullivan is ahead of the learning curve). The second group will probably vote Bush in case they suddenly start making over $200,000 a year.

Raised By Republicans said...

I guess I agree with Sullivan to a point. I agree with him that the Republican party has abandonned the old free market approach of the old GOP. But I think he misses a major factor by asserting that the only difference between Democrats and Republicans is the tax rate. It implies that the civil liberty issues and rabid nationalism of the current Republican leadership don't bother him. It should.

Bell Curve said...

You should go to his website and read the whole thing, not just the bit I cut out. He is in disbelief about Mary Cheney not appearing onstage with her family after the convention. The part I cut out was purely about economics.

You are right, however, that the Patriot Act gets little to no play on his site.

Prof. Werner von Brawn said...

In self-defense, I never said he was a moderate. I said he was an interesting case of a Republican, who you would think would be a Democrat, solidly voting Republican. He is Catholic, he's gay, and he has stood behind the president, until now, for one main reason,

He has repeatedly said that he is afraid Kerry can't or won't use force in the war on terror. He likes the idea of small government and fiscal conservatism. He is a Republican...albeit one from 15 or 20 years ago.

Secondly, he has railed against the Patriot Act, but more than that, he rages agaisnt the defesne of marriage act, etc. He is clearly saddened by the party he feels has betrayed him, yet he has held out that the party's position on security was a more important factor. As some international relations scholars have said, if you don't worry about security and instead worry about art, music, etc., you will be invaded, conquered, and not have time to worry about those other things...that seems to have been his position.

I really wonder, though, whether he'll even vote.

Raised By Republicans said...

I've been checking out his site from time to time for a while now (at the suggestion of Hr. Dr. von Brawn, the other political scientist - which is why I originally thought you had posted this on his behalf).

I have to admit that his stated ideology is very similar to the old "Stalwart" Republicans I grew up around in the Midwest.

I've said before that I think the Democratic party has an opportunity to forge a coalition between progressives and libertarians against the current Republican coalition of theocrats and corporatist nationalists. But will the "looney left" allow such a coalition? Kerry seems to be trying to build such a coalition. Bill Clinton could do it in a heart beat (pun intended).

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