Conservative Irrelevance on Economic Policy

In the previous post I discussed the inability of conservative Republicans to provide a meaningful opposition  due to the excessive ties between the American right and religion. Their claims of support for small government do not resonate when they actually support a stronger, more authoritarian, government which would impose their religious views upon others. Conservatives also suffer by their rejection of modern science, their weakness on civil liberties issues, and by the neoconservative foreign policy. Their extremism and lack of a basis in reality on economic issues has also weaken them as a viable movement.

The extremism of the far right which dominates the GOP and conservative movement often drowns out more rational voices on the right.  Alan Stewart Carl, writing at Donklephant, presents the center-right objections to Obama’s policies, beginning with quoting Megan McArdle. McArdle complains that Obama’s economic policies have been more to the left than she expected during the campaign but also sees the problems with the Republican opposition:

It’s therefore frankly more than a little disappointing that the free marketers are represented by Grover Norquist, who trots out conservative boilerplate to the effect that we’re all going to hell because of EFCA and marginal tax rate increases.  Republicans will not fight delusional accounting by demonstrating that they’re still tangled up in the Laffer Curve.  Growth can still hit 1.2%–or even 3.2%–if EFCA passes.  But it manifestly cannot in the middle of an ugly recession.

I think it is premature to assume a permanent leftward tilt to Obama’s economic policies and do believe we would be seeing far more of the influence of the Chicago school on him if not for the current economic climate. While he might be right or wrong, it is reaonable to expect more him to behave differently in response to current conditions.

Unfortunately it has become necessary so soon after taking office for Obama to remind people of the dire conditions he inherited upon taking office. The  article at The Washington Post which points this out is correct in its assessment that such remindersare contrary to what Obama would prefer to be dong but misses the point that this has been forced by repeated right wing attacks which attempt to place the blame on Obama for problems created under Republican rule.

In contrast to conservatives who try to place blame on Obama  Alan Stewart Carl does seem to have considered the effect of the current economic situation and does consider the possibility that Obama could be right at present, when criticizing the lack of a coherent oppositon policy:

This is not to say Obama’s plans will fail. McCardle’s concerns, like my concerns, might be misplaced. Maybe a leftward agenda, rather than a non-partisan agenda really is the best course. Or maybe it’s the complete lack of a coherent fiscally conservative solution that’s making it too easy for the administration to stick to leftward ideas and/or politics as usual.

As I’ve said before, it’s far too soon to assume Obama’s first 50+ days will define his entire presidency. He has inherited a huge mess and is still learning how to manage congress and present his ideas to the public. Still, those of us concerned with the direction so far can’t keep quiet. Obama needs some nudging from those to his right who share his hopes if not, as of yet, his economic ideas.

I remain an agnostic as to whether Obama’s stimulus plan will work, but unlike some conservatives I certainly hope that it does work. I never saw any point in spending much time worrying about or blogging on the topic. There was little doubt that the Democratic plan would pass, and the Republicans had no coherent proposals of their own. There was no coherent alternative on the table for (non-extremist) economic conservatives such as myself. Reasonable center-right alternatives might be of value but the Republicans continue to ignore economic reality and offer little more than simplistic solutions such as seen here.

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