The Republican Party needs more than rebranding: conservatism is the problem

Conservatism Is The Problem:

“Redistribution” is not a matter of first principles and anyone who tells you otherwise is mistaken. All fiscal policy is redistributive, in that it involves collecting taxes from someone and spending money on programs that benefit someone else. And the question of how progressive that redistribution ought to be depends on outside factors, such as the relative economic cost of various kinds of taxes and the level of pre-tax inequality.

Changes in economic conditions should change people’s preferences about the level of fiscal progressivity. For example, if returns to economic growth increasingly accrue to people at the top of the income distribution, we should become more favorable to progressive redistribution. If the economy becomes more fragile, with more risk of recessions that lead to years-long spells of high unemployment, that calls for a more robust and progressively-financed safety net. And if top income tax rates are well below the peak of the Laffer Curve, that creates more room for added progressivity.

As it happens, these are all conditions that have manifested over the last thirty years, and especially the last five — and they’re why I favor a more redistributive fiscal policy than I used to. Conservatives are wrong on this issue, and outside conditions have shifted over time in a way that has made them much more wrong than they used to be.

As Barro notes, the The Republican Party today is in a situation very similar to the British Labour Party back in the ’80s. Being too extreme made the socialists in the Labour Party ineffective both at winning elections and at enacting policies. If the GOP can become more moderate, it can again be an effective opposition party to the Democrats going forward.

Obama’s new Republican outreach strategy

obama republican outreach

Greg Sargent, “The GOP’s easy route to victory in fiscal fight”:

Even if the GOP leadership is entirely entrenched in its no-revenues stance, sooner or later, the basic reality of the situation will become impossible for other GOP lawmakers to fail to acknowledge. These lawmakers have ducked this reality by taking refuge behind a party-wide distortion (Obama only wants more tax hikes!) of the actual compromise Obama is offering.

But the White House’s new outreach strategy is making that position harder to sustain. Via Steve Benen, consider this remarkable tidbit from First Read’s write-up of yesterday’s Obama dinner with Senators: “one senator told us that he learned, for the first time, the actual cuts that the president has put on the table. Leadership hadn’t shared that list with them before.”

There will be a lot more of this, as more GOP officials acknowledge what it is they’re actually being offered. This dynamic could be hastened if the pain of the sequester starts to be felt in individual districts and states, thanks to defense and other cuts, focusing the minds of the lawmakers who represent them. And there actually is a (difficult) route to a place where enough non-leadership Republicans agree to a deal.

GOP leadership: “We’re not going to work with you.”

White House: “No problem, we’ll just talk to vulnerable Republicans behind your back from now on.”

The fall of Republican realism

Aaron David Miller:

And one of the reasons is that Barack Obama has cornered their market and stolen pages from the GOP playbook. Obama has become a George H.W. Bush realist when it comes to avoiding ideological overreach, and a much more effective and less ideological version of Bush the younger too: willfully surging in Afghanistan, killing Osama, and whacking 10 times the number of bad guys with drones than his predecessor. He may well be the American president who just doesn’t talk about containing Iran’s nuclear program, but uses military power against it. One reason the Chuck Hagel fight has been so bitter is that former senator is the poster child for a Republican realism that some in the party detest. In many ways, that nomination fight says more about the state of the Republican Party than it does about the Hagel candidacy itself.

How much longer can the Republican party go on actively opposing its own members who try to base their policies on reality and reason? How far must a party fall before the public stops giving them the time of day?

We could not have the sequester and still reduce the deficit, but Republicans won’t let it happen

The Real Cost of Shrinking Government –

Last week, Senate Democrats produced a much better plan to replace these cuts with a mix of new tax revenues and targeted reductions. About $55 billion would be raised by imposing a minimum tax on incomes of $1 million or more and ending some business deductions, while an equal amount of spending would be reduced from targeted cuts to defense and farm subsidies.

Republicans immediately rejected the idea; the Senate minority leader, Mitch McConnell, called it “a political stunt.” Their proposal is to eliminate the defense cuts and double the ones on the domestic side, heedless of the suffering that even the existing reductions will inflict. Their refusal to consider new revenues means that on March 1, Americans will begin learning how austerity really feels.

This is why we can’t have nice things.

“The GOP’s savior will be a woman”

condoleezza rice

The GOP’s savior will be a woman:

The Republican party of yesteryear abolished slavery. That same Republican Party expanded affirmative action through the “Philadelphia Plan.”

The party sent the 101st Airborne to Little Rock, Arkansas to enforce federal court orders to desegregate public schools. A Republican president appointed Earl Warren to the U.S. Supreme Court (Warren wrote the Supreme Court’s decision in Brown v. Board of Education), and signed into law the Civil Rights Acts of 1957 and 1960, legal tools guaranteeing all Americans the right to vote.

The Republican Party established the Environmental Protection Agency, and passed the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act, granting legal status to approximately 3 million undocumented immigrants.

Reading through this list, it’s amazing just how different the Republican Party today is from the party that existed for the century between the Civil War and the Civil Rights Movement. The problem with the Republican Party isn’t the person being used to sell it. Having a woman or Hispanic as the GOP candidate in 2016 will mean nothing if the Republicans don’t stop being the party of ignorance, hate, and welfare for the wealthy.

Marco Rubio is either a liar or a dolt

This is either a gross misunderstanding of how the debt and deficits work or a gross misrepresentation of those concepts.

Here’s how this really works:

Revenue – spending = net income

If net income is positive, we have a surplus. If net income is negative, we have a deficit. 

Old debt – net income = new debt

So if you have a surplus, you subtract a positive number from the debt and get a new, smaller debt. If you have a deficit, you subtract a negative number from the debt, thus getting a new, larger debt.

Let’s put some numbers behind this to make it clear. You have a government spending $6 a year, and taking in $3 a year in revenue. The government has a debt of $10.

$3 (revenue) – $6 (spending) = -$3 (net income)

We have a deficit of $3 this year.

$10 (old debt) – (-$3) (net income) = $13 (new debt)

The debt is now $13.

Next year, this government passes a bill raising tax rates, but they also increase spending. Now, revenue is at $5 and spending is at $7.

$5 (revenue) – $7 (spending) = -$2

The deficit has fallen to $2 this year.

$13 (old debt) – (-$2) (net income) = $15

The debt is now $15. 

As you can see, it’s most certainly possible to increase taxes and spending and decrease the deficit, as long as the tax increase is larger than the spending increase. (I won’t get into whether or not that’s a good idea because that depends entirely on the specifics of what taxes and spending we’re talking about.) To claim that a package isn’t reducing the deficit because the debt gets bigger is either a sign of ignorance or deceit.

CBO: Government austerity has hurt the economy

gap between gdp and potential gdp

Austerity Has Harmed The Economy According To CBO | TPMDC:

In other words, intentional efforts to reduce annual deficits and stabilize the debt are working. But if you retrain your gaze from the government’s balance sheet to the real economy, you’ll see the impact of that austerity is fewer people working and slower growth. According to CBO, the recovery won’t really pick up steam until next year, and the economy won’t have recovered until the end of 2017, when it will reach its output potential, and unemployment will fall to 5.5 percent.

Austerity does not work. Austerity hurts the economy. Duh.

At least Obama gets to say he accomplished a campaign promise:

The report does contain a thin silver lining for President Obama, who pledged in his 2008 campaign to halve the deficit in his first term.

“At an estimated $845 billion, the 2013 imbalance would be the first deficit in five years below $1 trillion; and at 5.3 percent of GDP, it would be only about half as large, relative to the size of the economy, as the deficit was in 2009,” if current laws don’t change, according to CBO.

This isn’t a real victory. A real win for Obama would have been getting unemployment down below 7% during his first term and fixing the long-term deficit via adjustments to Social Security and Medicare.

Another Republican says something stupid about rape

stephen colbert gop rape


From Slate:

“And I’ve delivered lots of babies, and I know about these things. It is true. We tell infertile couples all the time that are having trouble conceiving because of the woman not ovulating, ‘Just relax. Drink a glass of wine. And don’t be so tense and uptight because all that adrenaline can cause you not to ovulate.’ So he was partially right wasn’t he? But the fact that a woman may have already ovulated 12 hours before she is raped, you’re not going to prevent a pregnancy there by a woman’s body shutting anything down because the horse has already left the barn, so to speak. And yet the media took that and tore it apart.”

Pregnant from a rape? You were probably too relaxed during the incident.