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."

Friday, March 26, 2010

Good Ideas From a Republican

I just saw a great video of an interview on Canadian TV with former Bush aid, David Frum. First, of course this would be on Canadian TV. No American news agency - except for perhaps PBS - would ever devote a half an hour to an honest and frank discussion of political ideas and strategies.

Frum made a number of really interesting points about where the Republican party is today politically/ideologically and where he thinks it used to be and where he thinks it needs to go. In particular, he says that catering to the shrinking share of the population that white, non-college educated, and middle income is a recipe for chronic political decline. He also talks about how the GOP has become "anti-merit" where it used to be about "limited but effective government." Perhaps most interestingly, he implies that the GOP has ill-advisedly "nailed their colors to the pole" as far as policies demanded by and supported by voters over 65 - especially social policies and medicare policies. He paints a picture of a Republican party that has become impractical and inflexible. This is not news to the rest of us but it is interesting to hear it from a prominent Republican.

The other interesting idea from this interview was Frum's proposal for tax reform. He suggested that we shift the tax burden away from "production" and towards "consumption." Now, usually when Republicans talk like this they are proposing replacing income taxes with sales taxes. But Frum - rightly - said that sales taxes are a horrible idea. What he proposed was making all monies currently in savings accounts exempt from taxation. You only pay taxes on money you spend on things. So in other words if you save 10% of your income you are reducing your taxable income by 10%. I haven't fully thought out the ramifications of this but it sounds like a remarkable idea. It's certainly something worth looking at.

We do a lot of bashing of Republicans on this blog, so I thought it would be good for me to point out when I hear a genuinely good idea and analysis from a Republican.


The Law Talking Guy said...

Sure, RBR, but he's an ex-Republican in the sense that he's admitted to being kicked out of the fraternity and has publicly complained about it. He's a Republican the way Lieberman is a Democrat.

Raised By Republicans said...

Since political parties in the US can't revoke your membership like that I will ignore the "kicked out of the fraternity" thing with regard to his actual party ID. What really matters is what he considers himself to be and how he behaves politically.

I don't think he has renounced the Republican party the way Lieberman did with the Democrats. He's also a firmly committed conservative and wants conservatives to win elections (he just thinks the approach currently in favor in the GOP is the wrong one). You can't make analogous statements about Lieberman and liberals. Since 2006, Lieberman has done nothing but campaign against Democrats.

Frum does have one thing in common with Lieberman though. They both campaigned for John McCain in 2008. He even - grudgingly - gave his public support to Sarah Palin. It was clear in the interview that he dislikes Palin so I can only imagine that he supported her publicly out of loyalty to the GOP ticket - again, something he has in common with Lieberman.

Yet it is true that he is on the "RINO" list for people like Limbaugh, O'Riley and Beck. It is certain that he is not a typical Republican of these times. And that's part of the point I was trying to make.

The Law Talking Guy said...

Frum is being widely denounced by the right, and you know that, RBR. It's a bit disingenous to point to him, then, as if he were "one of them" when he has been cast out.

I do agree that some of his ideas about how the GOP has done itself in have some merit.

As for the savings/tax-exempt issue, wow. So like make all savings accounts like a 401K with no strings attached, and with no future taxation? Sounds very, very, very expensive. There is a reason for a top limit on 401K donations, btw, to limit the cost.

Raised By Republicans said...

You missed my point apparently. I'm saying it doesn't matter WHAT Glenn Beck says about him. "They" don't get to dictate Frum's party identification - only Frum does that. He is still a member of the Republican party, still campaigns on behalf of Republicans and if he were to run for office would likely run as a Republican.

A limit to tax exemptions for savings seems reasonable and practical. I guess we could just argue then about what that limit should be and what kinds of accounts would qualify. Certainly encouraging more savings and less consumption is a good goal, do you agree?