Mike Kueber's Blog

December 16, 2012

The death of the GOP?

Filed under: Economics,Issues,Politics — Mike Kueber @ 1:28 am
Tags: , ,

Several days ago, the New York Times’ Pulitzer-prize winning gadfly Maureen Dowd penned a column titled, “The Lost Civilization,” in which she predicted the death of the Republican Party.  She concluded the column as follows:  

  • But history will no doubt record that withering Republicans were finally wiped from the earth in 2016 when the relentless (and rested) Conquistadora Hillary marched in, General Bill on a horse behind her, and finished them off.”

Surprisingly, the Times’ famously liberal readers disagreed with Dowd.  Scores of readers wrote to her and scoffed at the thought that one of our nation’s great parties was emasculated.   

The New York Times’ Nobel-prize winning columnist Paul Krugman was apparently not listening to those readers because yesterday he wrote a similar column titled, “The GOP’s existential crisis.”  This time, instead of questioning Krugman’s ability to prognosticate, the Times’ liberal readers by the thousands have been forwarding the column around the world because nothing seems to make them feel better than to read about the demise of the GOP. 

Krugman is probably the most doctrinally pure spokesperson for liberal economics, and that is why this column is resonating with millions of liberals.  The column begins by declaring, “We are not having a debt crisis,” and then goes on to explain:

  • It’s important to make this point, because I keep seeing articles about the ‘fiscal cliff’ that do, in fact, describe it — often in the headline — as a debt crisis. But it isn’t. The U.S. government is having no trouble borrowing to cover its deficit. In fact, its borrowing costs are near historic lows. And even the confrontation over the debt ceiling that looms a few months from now if we do somehow manage to avoid going over the fiscal cliff isn’t really about debt.”

The only person who would give Krugman any credibility after reading that statement must have jettisoned their common sense and drunk the Kool-Aid.  The remaining part of the column, however, clearly articulates what this ongoing war of ideas is about:

  • No, what we’re having is a political crisis, born of the fact that one of our two great political parties has reached the end of a 30-year road. The modern Republican Party’s grand, radical agenda lies in ruins — but the party doesn’t know how to deal with that failure, and it retains enough power to do immense damage as it strikes out in frustration.

According to Krugman, the “radical” Republican agenda “is nothing less than the elimination of the welfare state — that is, the whole legacy of the New Deal and the Great Society.”  What is so radical about that?  

Krugman argues that a frontal attack by Republicans on the welfare state was not possible because, although Americans oppose big government in the abstract, they strongly support Social Security, Medicare, and even Medicaid. So instead, Republicans tried to indirect attacks:

  1. “Starve the beast,” the idea of using tax cuts to reduce government revenue, then using the resulting lack of funds to force cuts in popular social programs.
  2. Exploit other sources of strength — white resentment, working-class dislike of social change, tough talk on national security — to build overwhelming political dominance, at which point the dismantling of the welfare state could proceed freely.  

Neither indirect attack worked – starving the beast led only to exploding deficits and the Republican base has demographically shrunk, plus Obama killed bin Laden.  And to add insult to injury, “Republicans now have to watch as Mr. Obama implements the biggest expansion of social insurance since the creation of Medicare;” – i.e., ObamaCare.

Krugman concludes his column more pessimistically than Dowd because he sees the GOP as in its dying days, but still with enough life to do serious damage:

  • So Republicans have suffered more than an election defeat, they’ve seen the collapse of a decades-long project. And with their grandiose goals now out of reach, they literally have no idea what they want — hence their inability to make specific demands.  “It’s a dangerous situation. The G.O.P. is lost and rudderless, bitter and angry, but it still controls the House and, therefore, retains the ability to do a lot of harm, as it lashes out in the death throes of the conservative dream.  Our best hope is that business interests will use their influence to limit the damage. But the odds are that the next few years will be very, very ugly.”

The hubris by Dowd and Krugman in thinking the GOP is outdated is incredible.  Either they are totally out-of-touch while ensconced in their Manhattan edifice, or they are merely entertaining their liberal audience, a la El Rushbo.  And they can only dream that America continues down the road to becoming a full-fledged welfare state.

I wonder how they would answer a question posed by liberal Fareed Zakaria this week in Time magazine:

  • The left must ask itself why it is tethered to a philosophy that insists that government’s overwhelming responsibility is for pensions and health care even when, as an inevitable consequence, this starves other vital functions of the state….  Above education?  Above scientific innovation?  Above investments in infrastructure and energy?  Above poverty alleviation?”
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