Voodoo Economics and the Collapse of the Republican Party

Recently David Brooks discussed the collapse of the Republican Party but missed all the real reasons. While there are many problems, most come down to a combination of incompetence in governing, such as with Iraq and Katrina, increased government intrusion in individual’s lives as they promote the social policies of the religious right, and a disconnect from reality in many of their views. The last can be seen in their rejection of science, such as their views on evolution and global warming, their disputed claims about Iraq such as the presence of WMD and a connection to 9/11, their promotion of alternative history, such as in their denial of the nation’s foundation in separation of church and state and their views on the near-absolute power of the Executive Branch, and in promoting what previously was called Voodoo Economics.

Steven Pearlstein saw one component of how the Republicans ignore reality in economics in writing about last night’s debate:

…for two hours yesterday, the nine white men who would be president were each peddling the Big Lie that the only way to ensure economic growth is by cutting all the taxes ever created — and when you’re finished with that, cutting them some more.

Two hours, nine candidates, each one vowing to slash federal spending, but only one (Mitt Romney) able to mention a program whose funding he would cut (some advanced technology program).

In case there was any doubt about his feelings about Romney, Pearlstein had considerable criticism of Romney’s positions, which were not limited to these comments on taxation:

It is becoming clear, not just from this and previous debates but also from their speeches and position papers, that the leading Republican candidates aren’t serious about economic issues.

Romney, for example, issued a 23-point economic plan yesterday that, if you didn’t know better, you might think was a parody written by Jon Stewart for “The Daily Show.”

In addition to proposing additional cuts in every major revenue source (income, inheritance and corporate taxes), he would effectively eliminate all taxes on interest, dividends and capital gains; make all health-care spending tax-deductible; give additional tax breaks to make America “energy independent”; and provide a rebate to businesses for tax payments that might be “embedded” in the cost of anything they export. He opposes raising the cap on wages subject to the payroll tax.

Clearly, Romney’s view is that the tax code is supposed to be used in the service of every economic objective other than raising revenue for government services. He figures his other initiatives — like repairing transportation infrastructure, improving education and worker retraining, and strictly enforcing immigration laws — can be accomplished without spending an extra dime.

Pearlstein didn’t think much of the other leading Republican candidates either (reserving good words only for Huckabee).

As hackneyed as it is, however, the Romney plan is a four-course meal compared with the policy pu-pu platter offered so far by Thompson, Rudy Giuliani and even the straight-talking McCain.

Support for Voodoo Economics provides just one additional example of why the Republicans have collapsed due to the unrealistic and fanatic ideas they promote. Virtually everybody desires lower taxes, and a party which is seen as the one which will keep taxes lower has a built-in advantage. However, most also realize that a certain level of taxation is necessary, and realize that sooner or later if we cut taxes too far, especially in a time of war, we will pay a worse price. By moving from the party of sensible main street businessmen who want to keep taxes as low as realistically possible to extremists who call for absolute pledges against raising taxes, and claiming this will bring in more revenue, the Republican Party seriously harmed their reality. When added to the many other areas beyond economics where Republicans lost touch with reality, their collapse is easy to understand.


  1. 1
    Dennis D says:

    Romneys Tax cut plan vs Hillarys desire to privatize Social Security? Of course any mention of a Govt Sponsored 401k for Americans would lead to fear mongering about privatizing Social Security is a Repub raised the issue.

  2. 2
    Ron Chusid says:

    Yes, Hillary certainly left herself open to questions of consistency. (I never expected much consistency or logic, as opposed to political expediency from Hillary, so her proposals didn’t come as any surprise.)

    Despite the inconsistency, Clinton’s proposals don’t reach any where near the same level of absurdity as the Republican economic views, and would not be any where near as harmful to the economy.

    (Defending awful ideas by attempting to create such false equivalences is yet another reason for the Republican collapse. Such claims are just not credible to those outside of the Republican echo chamber.)

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