Republican ‘Budget’ Embarrassing

Steven Taylor, a lifelong Republican, calls “The Republican Road to Recovery,” the GOP’s budget-without-numbers, “an “embarrassing budget proposal.”

Here’s the deal: if one is going to engage in a serious1 policy debate about very serious fiscal and monetary matters in a time of a very deep financial crisis, one has to come prepared and be ready to have a a real discussion. If one is going to assert that one’s ideological prescriptions are superior to the ones being deployed, one needs to attempt to prove it. Not only is this all true in terms of legitimate discourse (political or intellectual), but if a party wishes to move from minority to majority it has to give the public good reasons to grant such a request.

That is, as I understand it, the normal course of events.

What’s truly bizarre is that the Democrats have managed to take what was, last November, a perfect storm in their favor, and turn it, through a series of missteps, into a golden opportunity for the Republicans to demonstrate that they’re a serious alternative party after all.  Thus far, however, the GOP has yet to meet that challenge.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. JKB says:

    While one wonders when the Republicans will get their act together, you can’t argue that leaving the Dems to their own devices has worked out quite well.

    If your enemy is shooting himself in the foot, there is no reason to try to interfere with his aiming.




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  2. JKB says:

    While one wonders when the Republicans will get their act together, you can’t argue that leaving the Dems to their own devices has worked out quite well.

    If your enemy is shooting himself in the foot, there is no reason to try to interfere with his aiming.




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  3. Rick Almeida says:

    I believe John Cole puts it perfectly when he tags posts “Clown Shoes.”




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  4. Bithead says:

    (Shrug)
    This goes to what I’ve been calling “Obama’s Shock and Awe” spending.

    One of the desired effects of shock and awe tactics is to bewilder your enemy. It appears to have worked to some degree.




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  5. While one wonders when the Republicans will get their act together, you can’t argue that leaving the Dems to their own devices has worked out quite well.

    I think that the thing is, however, that while one may not like what the Democrats are doing, they at least have an actual set of policies to implement. Granted, part of that comes from being the party in power (although the Reps did a good job of lacking coherence about governance when they were in charge, to be honest).

    While I fully understand that at the end of the day political parties are imperfect coalitions made up of imperfect groups consisting of imperfect people, the bottom line is that there is something profoundly wrong with the Republicans at the moment and simply hoping for the Democrats to shoot themselves in the foot isn’t an especially appealing strategy.

    Indeed, while I am personally not necessarily pleased with how the Dems are governing, objectively I am not sure that one can make the argument that they are shooting themselves in the foot yet (although I am sure I will set upon by dissenters to that position).




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  6. One of the desired effects of shock and awe tactics is to bewilder your enemy. It appears to have worked to some degree.

    1) I am not sure how one party’s policy proposals would so overawe their opponent that they were incapable of presenting a coherent plan.

    2) There is a causation problem with your logic, as the GOP’s ineptitude has been in evidence long before Obama was elected.




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  7. Derrick says:

    2) There is a causation problem with your logic, as the GOP’s ineptitude has been in evidence long before Obama was elected.

    Ding!ding!ding! We have a winner. David Brooks wrote a pretty good article during the campaigns about the absolute dearth of ideas in Republican circles. There is just a complete vacuum right now, and you wonder who fills it. But in a broader sense, I think that this has much more to dow with the “movement” than “individuals”. You just can’t have a party that is so rigid to a napkin-size writing of their “principles” and expect them to think practically on any serious issues. Unless Repbulicans find some way to allow themselvese to think past just tax cuts and abortion, they aren’t going to spend much time thinking about much else.




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  8. “What’s truly bizarre is that the Democrats have managed to take what was, last November, a perfect storm in their favor, and turn it, through a series of missteps, into a golden opportunity for the Republicans to demonstrate that they’re a serious alternative party after all. Thus far, however, the GOP has yet to meet that challenge.”

    Funny… I recall the situation being reversed just a few years ago.

    In fact, things haven’t really changed all that much. The Democrats didn’t really get elected on the strength of their own platform (which sucks) this time around. They got elected because the Republican platform sucks even more.

    Bush basically got reelected for the same reasons applied in reverse. However, we didn’t get from there to here because the Democratic platform got more appealing. It happened because the Republican platform got less so, mostly because in many areas it was giving us poor results. Now we find out that the relatively unchanged Democratic platform isn’t really giving us any better results (and they might be worse).

    Our current crop of political “leadership” is absurdly lacking in vision and, you know, actual leadership – even by comparison to other politicians – ie, political leaders I can remember in my own short lifetime such as Reagan, O’Neil and Gingrich, all of whom presented some kind of coherent political platform, despite whatever problems they may have had. Hell, compared to this crop even Clinton’s “let me check today’s polls” style seems visionary.




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  9. sam says:

    @Bit

    One of the desired effects of shock and awe tactics is to bewilder your enemy. It appears to have worked to some degree.

    Ain’t hard to bewilder the already bewildered.




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  10. Zelsdorf Ragshaft III says:

    I read the proposal. While the Republicans are not in a position to write numbers (why should they?)the can put forth policy. Why, pray tell, would one spend a great deal of effort coming up with numbers only to have the whole body of work thrown out by those in power? 9 Trillion dollars in national debt should awaken everyone of the folly of this pretender of a President. The would encumber each household in America in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. Seems the threshold of being rich has been lowered. Obama’s goal of destroying the middle class is well on its way.




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  11. Eneils Bailey says:

    Thus far, however, the GOP has yet to meet that challenge.

    You go that right.

    It’s time for conservatives in Washington to stop waking in the morning and stop taking to heart what the NYT, WaPO or MSN thinks of them. What these publications or broadcast should be treated as is a substitute for toilet paper or a TV or radio nuisance to awaken their household pets.

    The people out here are getting tired of you people telling us how dumb were are, how greedy we are, and abiding by certain principles we have been taught all our lives are out to destroy the lives of people that can’t find their moral and economic ass with both hands.

    People are hurting; those who agree with me, those that disagree with me, and those that could give a big pile of crap because they watch “American Idol,” “Dancing With the Stars,” and “Entertainment Tonight.” That’s hard news to them.

    There’s are reckoning soon to be coming, and it won’t involve the the people in Washington or the Northeastern corridor sitting in judgment.

    Thank you very much….




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  12. Triumph says:

    Lets remember that the Republicans are going up against Big Libs here. Anything they put forward will be more sensible than that proposed by the Liberal-Hollywood-Organic Food Complex.

    The Democrat Party is liberal as hell and they are only going to help their immigrant/anti-Christian base.

    Luckily, Real America can not be held down. We will get these bums as soon as B. Hussein and his hippie libbie friends fail miserably.




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  13. Bithead says:

    There is a causation problem with your logic, as the GOP’s ineptitude has been in evidence long before Obama was elected.

    In many cases, I don’t disagree. But my comment wasn’t intended to be all encompassing. I merely laid out part of he issue that I saw as being less then intuative.

    I will suggest to you that at least part of the problem there, however, is the long meander towards liberalism over the last decade and longer, of the Republicans. I suggest that part of the problem is as I say, Obama’s ‘Shock and Awe spending, which I wrote a peice to last week at Pajamas Media.

    But the rest of the issue, (which I’m putting something together on just now) is a rather dull surprise at the resistance they’ve been getting from Republican rank and file over their drift to the left, which culminated in my view in the nominatino of McCain, and the defeat thereof. They’ve not figured out how to deal with that yet. Mostly, becasuse frankly where confusion exists, they lack a principled vison to rule their course. Eneils speks to that point well, I think.

    In looking over the actual proposal…(And I think Jen Rubin does a fair job of laying out the positives in the proposal) one gets the idea that where it lacks specifics, wasn’t really seen as being as important by it’s authors as Steve makes them out to be… as Rubin points up, it wouldn’t pass, anyway… this is more of a positioning thing.

    Republicans are aiming not to win the budget battle, but to re-establish the differentiation between the parties. Having lost their image of fiscal sobriety during the Bush years, Republicans now are struggling to re-establish their brand. At the very least they are offering a choice: free market health care vs. government-run, nationalized care; bailouts vs. getting failing companies off the dole; and higher vs. lower taxes. Without the necessity of rounding up votes they have the luxury of painting the stark differences in political philosophy between the two parties.

    Will it “work”? Well, it is not going to pass, of course. But that is not its aim. In a sense the Republican budget plan “works” by existing, by reminding voters that massive taxing and spending is not the only alternative. Provided the Republicans oppose the Obama budget en masse (which is highly likely), they will be positioned to argue in the years ahead, and most clearly in 2010, that Obama “owns” the budget and our fiscal outlook.

    Ask yourself, what would the difference realy ahve been if they came in with a fully dressed budget, ready to go? Hell, the Democrats don’t even read their own bills shen voting on them, what indication do we have that anyone would read a proposal that had no chance of passage?




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  14. Christopher says:

    LOL! All of you are sooooo funny!

    It doesn’t matter what budget the R’s offer up. They could have the most brilliant plan in the world and do u think it would ever see the light of day? NO! The only thing it is good for is campaigns and both sides know it.

    Bottom line: Republicans believe in lower spending (which they failed on in the Bush years), and less taxes to boost the economy (success!). Democrats believe in lots more government, and higher taxes to pay for it all (ignoring dynamic/static implications of the budget). End of story! Obama is a tax and spend liberal on steroids. If Americans want more of that as they see the effects of his policies, I guess we will have it. If not, republicans will have yet another chance.




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  15. JKB says:

    As much as many wish, it isn’t really time of the Newt Gingrich of 2010 to move to the forefront. Obama was elected by a majority and now those people get a taste of the real Dems. The rest of us get that taste as well but we already suspected it would be foul. Not much the Republicans can do in the minority but refuse to validate bad policies as they did with the Stimulus. By not giving the Dems a whipping boy, the Reps have forced them flounder about looking for something to distract; Rush Limbaugh who doesn’t make policy and profited handsomely from the attention, the AIG bonuses which the Dems specifically affirmed.

    Later this summer or in the fall, after the Obama policies have been more fully revealed, will be the time for counter arguments and leadership for 2010 to move forward. It is unfortunate that we have to endure some of these policies but when someone is in love, you have to let them get screwed or smacked around a few times before they are open to the argument their true love might not be good for them.




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  16. Steve Plunk says:

    The Republican plan is vague for public consumption to be sure but I expect the details are somewhere yet not released.

    The problem with those details is they are uninspiring. The kid getting the Americorp job is all smiles and happy talk. The guy who keeps his job as a result of tax cuts doesn’t even know it. Who gets on the evening news? Fiscal discipline is just that, discipline. Frowny face, cranky discipline. Those are ideas best kept vague and talked about in broad terms.

    So should the Republicans be embarrassed? No. As the opposition party they have no responsibility to provide details any more than the Dems provided details for getting out of Iraq. It may not be a perfect policy document but it serves the purpose of the opposition.




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  17. odograph says:

    I’m not sure that the frustration people feel is really for Obama or even for “teh Dems.”

    It’s about the crisis and the responses the Fed and Treasury have been telling us we need. Those have spanned the late Bush and early Obama administrations.

    Republicans spent way too much time complaining about a $800 billion stimulus, as trillions were slapped on Wall Street.

    Even this suggestion now that it is about “budget” is really another misdirection from those trillions.

    Do the Republicans have an answer to those, or do they feign difference?




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  18. Eneils Bailey says:

    Hey, listen, President Obama is an impressive fella.

    He gives good teleprompter speeches.
    Looks good.
    Talks good.
    Acts good.
    Has a nice wife.
    Has nice children.

    Knows nothing about the US Constitution.
    His most important job: organizing Acorn.
    His least important job. US Senator; vote present.
    Ambition: Give a speech off the cuff, no teleprompter.
    Biggest Nemesis’. Anyone that knows US law, ie, the Constitution.
    Worst personal habit.. Scrathing his ears with his hind legs instead of his hands and fingers.
    Future employment…Building frame house’s with Jimmah Carter.

    Sorry, I have not been smitten with Obama mania.
    My respects to the office he holds. If he walked into the room in which I am sitting now. I would rise to my feet and treat the office he holds with respect.
    After he left, I would go dig up my wallet, to make sure the visit was not overly-taxing.




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  19. Michael says:

    While the Republicans are not in a position to write numbers (why should they?)the can put forth policy.

    In looking over the actual proposal… one gets the idea that where it lacks specifics, wasn’t really seen as being as important by it’s authors as Steve makes them out to be…

    It doesn’t matter what budget the R’s offer up. They could have the most brilliant plan in the world and do u think it would ever see the light of day?

    Yes, why should a budget proposal need actual numbers anyway? Look, I understand partisanship, I understand bias, I understand BDS and ODS, but come on guys. A budget without number is what? I can’t even think of a good analogy.




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  20. I’m not going to defend Republicans, but if you can’t tell the difference between $800 billion in government deficit spending and say, $2 trillion in open market losses, then what’s the p[oint? Do you relaly think it is the gpovernment’s job to indemnify traders from losses? Isn’t that the whole problem in a nutshell?




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  21. less taxes to boost the economy (success!)

    If you cut taxes without cutting spending, you haven’t really cut taxes; you’ve just changed them from a direct tax to an indirect tax in the form of inflation.




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  22. Christopher says:

    dude, its a lot better than not cutting taxes at all!




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  23. HankP says:

    My question is What in the World Happened to the Republicans? I’m not a Republican and don’t agree with their policies, but why have they suddenly lost their competence on even basic ability to organize their message?




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  24. dude, its a lot better than not cutting taxes at all!

    No, it’s not.

    If I measure my house in square inches instead of suqare feet, it hasn’t actually gotten bigger.

    Likewise devaluing the US dollar by replacing tax revenue with printing more money doesn’t increase the amount of my own productivity I get to keep.




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  25. Joe says:

    Most of you talk like the president or democratic congess doesn’t have improved poll numbers over the republicans. Its amusing to listen to sore loosers who don’t have a clue about what this country wants.




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  26. sam says:

    @Steve Plunk

    The Republican plan is vague for public consumption to be sure but I expect the details are somewhere yet not released.

    Sure, they’re where everything else Republican is these days: Cloud Cuckoo Land. In fact, it would take an Aristophanes to do adequately portray the f-cked up state of the current Republican party.




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  27. Tlaloc says:

    What’s truly bizarre is that the Democrats have managed to take what was, last November, a perfect storm in their favor, and turn it, through a series of missteps, into a golden opportunity for the Republicans to demonstrate that they’re a serious alternative party after all.

    I can’t agree with this, James. The dems had a very good opportunity in terms of eletoral forces, and they mostly made good use of them gaining near super majorities in both houses of congress and the presidency.

    But the aftermath of the election was far from a perfect storm for dems. Obama was inheriting a disintegrating economy and the unpopular (particularly with his base) “GWOT”. At the same time he couldn’t just withdraw from Iraq and afghanistan without probably committing political suicide (the myth of our military omnipotence is too deeply embedded in the national character, unfortunately). Those two issues alone meant Obama was going to have serious problems once the honeymoon wore off.

    And we’ve seen his popularity decline (although it is still quite healthy). The amazing thing is that we’ve seen congress popularity go way up compared to last year. The underlying mechanic isn’t exactly clear as dems mostly seem unhappy about congress doing too little and republicans seem unhappy about their boy failing to stop the stuff that is getting done.

    Finally it is worth noting that this has been an extraordinarily busy start to a presidential term. We’re just over two months in and we’ve gotten an enormous stimulus package pushed through, card check has been raised-killed-reraised, there’s been the AIG bonuses tax, a massive budget is set to be voted on shortly, and there’s been all the usual presidential appointments. Whether you think it’s a good or bad thing you have to admit that for congress that’s moving at damn near light speed.




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  28. Tlaloc says:

    I was amused at the incredible tin ear of the “Republican Road to Recovery.” Proposing a flat 10% tax on income up to $100,000 during a time characterized by populist anger at fat cats in general and wall street in particular, requires a very special kind of cluelessness.




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  29. Drew says:

    “Likewise devaluing the US dollar by replacing tax revenue with printing more money doesn’t increase the amount of my own productivity I get to keep.”

    Nor does increasing taxes, unless you can shove them off on your neighbor, that is. The universal Democratic selling point.

    Anyone want to tackle spending?

    Anyone?

    Anybody here?

    Anybody out there?

    Hello?

    London calling..




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  30. superdestroyer says:

    The Republican Party is irrelevant to the operations of the U.S. government and will soon be so irrelevant that the media will not pay attention to the results of the Republican primaries.

    Ever since the Bush was elected in 2000 the Republicans have worked very hard to make themselves irrelevant and now they have succeeded.

    Maybe when everyone who was ever associated with the Bush Administration or severed in Congress from 2001 to 2006 is out of office and out of politics will changes occur. As long as Bush cronies are kept around, the Republican will keep screwing up.

    Maybe when every home schooled, Patrick Henry college, Regents University alum is totally out of politics, things will change. What can you say about people who thought that there could be a permanent Republican majority while maintaining open borders and unlimited immigration?




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  31. MAS1916 says:

    The general public hasn’t really insisted on knowing where the Obama tax money is coming from. They only know that “someone else” is paying the bill.

    Republicans need to keep hammering at the Obama budget as did the Democrats when Bush was in the White House. Obama’s job is to justify the numbers. Republicans shouldn’t take the bait and submit their own plan. That isn’t their job.

    When inflation hits double digits next year as a direct result of Obama’s overspending, the public will start listening. THEN we make the case. Let Obama justify his spending. Republican’s can’t submit their own and then spend precious time defending it.




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  32. Bithead says:

    If you cut taxes without cutting spending, you haven’t really cut taxes; you’ve just changed them from a direct tax to an indirect tax in the form of inflation.

    Well, careful, here. You do so, minus the degree to which the income to the Federal treasury is increased by the increased amount of economic activity in the open market.

    Or are you trying to tell us that the amount of money taken in by the Federal government is completely independent of the state of the economy at that time?




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  33. steve s says:

    If you can actually believe that a constitutional law professor ‘knows nothing about the constitution’, then you’re demonstrating the kind of intellectual heft that made the era of GOP governance the success it was.

    The GOP ‘budget’. Cheney. Michelle Bachman. Michael Steele. Limbaugh and Pence and the rest. I’m actually glad the GOP is working so hard to make such fools of themselves. The young and educated are watching, and it’s pretty clear they have noticed. I’m going to be grinning and cooking up some popcorn come Nov 2010.




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  34. No, what I’m saying is that the portion of production consumed by the government is determined by how much it spends, regardless of how it finances that spending. Whatever portion of that spending is not covered by revenue is collecting by reducing the value of the dollar; the resulting effect on the purchasing power of individuals is the same whether they end up with a smaller amount of dollars that are worth more or with a larger amount of dollars that are worth less.




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  35. steve s says:

    While I fully understand that at the end of the day political parties are imperfect coalitions made up of imperfect groups consisting of imperfect people, the bottom line is that there is something profoundly wrong with the Republicans at the moment and simply hoping for the Democrats to shoot themselves in the foot isn’t an especially appealing strategy.

    Indeed, while I am personally not necessarily pleased with how the Dems are governing,

    I can’t decide whether the American public’s thorough rejection of the GOP is based more on results or culture.

    The results option is simple. The GOP policies didn’t work. Tax cuts paired with massive spending doesn’t work. Deregulating finance doesn’t work. Capricious war doesn’t work. Abstinence-ed doesn’t work. Ignoring science doesn’t work. Torturing captives doesn’t work.

    As far as culture, the demographic I’ve been deeply immersed in the last 12 years is 18-32 yro college students & college grads, and their culture is quite different from the GOP base. To put it bluntly, the GOP appears to them to be the party of hateful idiots. The kind of cantankerous, ignorant people who sit around talking about Barack the Seekrit Marxist Mooslim and how global warming is a worldwide conspiracy, possibly orchestrated by the Radical Homosexuals. People who can’t even accept the fact of gays, or condoms, or evolution, or, and this is a big one, the value of education. The culture that celebrates Joe the Plumber and Sarah Palin and Rush Limbaugh, that puts Jindal up there mocking geological research, that puts out a ‘budget’ with no numbers…well…young intelligent educated types see that and say thanks but no thanks.

    We don’t particularly like the Democrats, exactly, but it’s them or the Tard Party, so Dem it is. And every time Michelle Bachman opens her mouth, or Glenn Beck, or Hannity, or Hewitt, or Malkin, or whoever, they push us another centimeter further away.

    You might say, well, yes, but they also pull the GOP base another centimeter closer. And they do. But what makes this a long-term problem for the GOP is that the GOP base demographic is shrinking. While the other culture I described is expanding. And the base has a strong grip on the GOP, pushing RINOs out, primary-challenging people like Specter. Demanding obeisance to Rush. It’s going to take at least a few more losses in 2010 and 2012 before the party will be broken enough to change direction.




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  36. Bithead says:

    No, what I’m saying is that the portion of production consumed by the government is determined by how much it spends, regardless of how it finances that spending.

    But again, that ignores that when government reduces the percentage of tax take, the actual tax income goes UP.

    I can’t decide whether the American public’s thorough rejection of the GOP is based more on results or culture.

    I have long held that facts have nothing to do with the support that democrats regularly achieve. You’ll recall I commented that thereby mere facts will never defeat them. On that basis, perhaps, the answer of “culture” is closer to the mark. Or, perhaps, it’s more correct to say “anti culture”.

    Years… decades, in fact, of the left gainsaying every value held by traditional American culture, particularly in the halls of every government indoctrination center… we used to call them ‘schools’ cannot be without effect.




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  37. An Interested Party says:

    re: Posted by Bithead | March 28, 2009 | 12:09 pm

    So, basically, it is a grand liberal conspiracy that is causing the country to drift leftward? Oh my, life is just so darn unfair…you poor, sad conservatives…whatever are you going to do? Maybe stage a revolution or something…




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  38. But again, that ignores that when government reduces the percentage of tax take, the actual tax income goes UP.

    This is exactly my point: republican tax cuts did no actually reduce the portion of our productivity the government lays claim to. All the proof of this you need is that after Bush’s tax cuts, the percentage of GDP represented in government spending increased.

    All Bush’s tax cut did was devalue the dollar; by giving us a bigger pile of less valuable dollars, most Republican voters were fooled into thinking the their personal purchasing power had been increased.




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