Meanwhile the Republican party faces its own, more painful, identity crisis. On the eve of the elections, Club for Growth polled 800 likely voters in 15 of the most competitive districts on the eve of the election (including 13 formerly GOP districts that went for Democrats). Two-thirds agreed with the notion that the GOP used to be the party of fiscal responsibility and limited government but was not today. By an 11-point margin, likely voters expressed greater confidence in Democrats to handle select fiscal matters responsibly. “We have lost our brand,” Toomey bemoaned.
Kevin Drum writes:
Get real, guys. The Club for Growth and its ilk have never cared a tenth as much about lower spending as they have about lower taxes. They know perfectly well that if a Republican administration actually cut spending to match its tax cuts it would get voted out of office for the next century. And they’ve never cared. They just want low taxes (the easy part of fiscal responsibility) without the spending cuts (the part that gets you voted out of office). It’s similar to the GOP’s Iraq strategy: they want the glory of winning a war, but without the pain of making the hard choices it would take to actually do so. At the moment, the Republican Party is the Party of Magic. That’s the brand they need to fix.
Le Club for Rich People pretend that fiscal responsibility and limited government are the same thing, but that’s just stupid. OK, Phil Gramm might have been for both but St. Reagan never got around to cutting government spending. So his 1981 tax cut was rightfully branded fiscal irresponsibility by conservative economists such as Thomas Sargent. George W. Bush actually thinks one can cut taxes as he increases government spending. Of course, Fred Barnes is goofy enough to approve of Bush’s big government conservatism – not understanding that “to spend is to tax” as Milton Friedman might say.
The last two fiscally responsible Presidents happen to be our last two Democratic Presidents – Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter. And better yet – both were more aligned to the Blue Dog coalition that would curb the growth of government spending. And yet the Blue Dogs know we cannot make George W. Bush’s tax “cuts” (read deferrals) permanent as the GOP has no plan to cut government spending to any appreciable degree. Le Club knows this and yet they have promoted the free lunch BS of Art Laffer, which is the reason that the GOP abandoned fiscal responsibility some 25 years ago.
Of course, my belief is that George W. Bush wanted to abuse Social Security deform to take away your retirement benefits, which is really a backdoor employment tax increase. But Dean Baker notes:
One aspect of the election that the media have largely ignored thus far is the fact that Republicans who were prominently associated with Social Security privatization took a beating on Tuesday. At the top of this list is Rick Santorum, who actively embraced President Bush’s proposals. Last year, Santorum held town meetings around Pennsylvania touting the benefits of Social Security privatization. Last night, the people of Pennsylvania voted to send him out of town by a double-digit margin. Clay Shaw, one of the leading proponents of Social Security privatization in the House, was also sent packing by his Florida constituents. Chris Chocola, an Indiana congressman who briefly flirted with Social Security privatization, was also soundly defeated in what had previously been a safe district. After Tuesday’s vote, the only politicians who are likely to be pushing Social Security privatization are those looking for a change of career.
Thank goodness! I guess Le Club for Rich People need to learn to deal with the fact that their plan to rip off middle class workers by handing over their Social Security benefits to the very well to do has been defeated at the polls.