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Tom Toles
Posted at 07:15 AM ET, 01/30/2013

More on conservatism

I don’t really have advice for Republicans. They dug their own hole and they can figure out whether they want to keep digging. But I can tell you how it looks from here.

To be as generous as I can be, Republicans have a core belief that the federal government is out of control. That it is inherently inefficient and growing like a kudzu and would strangle the nation and its economy and its people if not starved of revenue. And it’s possible they are right about that. But there are several problems with this thesis that they are going to have to come to terms with.

First is that it was the opposite problem, unchecked, lightly regulated free-market bubblenomics that caused the latest catastrophic economic meltdown. The worst meltdown since the Great Depression, also caused by the same bubbliscious little-government philosophy. Hmmm. Maybe a lesson there somewhere! Second, the argument that freer free-marketry would benefit everyone has been given a long, interesting test. The results are that the vast, vast percentage of the gains ended up enriching a tiny percentage of people and enriched them to an epic degree. You can defend this if you want, but there it is for all to see. Third, the deficits that the GOP likes to howl about, like cats in the night, were part of their own tax cuts and starve-the-beast strategy. Problem here? Strategy didn’t work! The tax cuts didn’t pay for themselves, the beast wasn’t starved, and the voters spoke. Americans don’t want to strangle the beast because the beast is actually the bulk of their retirement plan. What happened to the private part of their retirement plan? Ask the newly unfettered corporations! Pension costs have been “shed” and retirees don’t especially want to live in that shed. Consequently here we are. The percentage of the GNP funneled though the government (yes, funneled though, not simply confiscated and burned) is going back up from the high teens to the low twenties for quite some time to come.

This may suffocate America and turn us all into lazy takers or it may not, but that’s the way it’s going to be for awhile. New reality. GOP, your move.

By  |  07:15 AM ET, 01/30/2013

 
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