Grand New Party

The authors, Ross Douthat and Reihan Salam, invited me to their book party at Borders — and I wanted to meet them — but no I must stay home and read and blog their book!  (I wrote this post last night.)  If there was rush hour road pricing, as indeed they propose, I would have been there in a flash but no I am munching on cherries on my sofa.

The subtitle is "How Republicans Can Win the Working Class and Save the American Dream" and the Amazon link is here.  Their favored policies include the following (with varying degrees of enthusiasm/utopianism on their part):

1. Family-friendly tax reform.

2. Sprawl is OK or at least it could be with rational traffic management policies.

3. Government reinsurance for catastrophic health care expenses, plus they consider the Brad DeLong health care plan.

4. Abolition of the payroll tax for many lower-income earners.

5. Allocate money to public schools on a student-weighted basis, as is done in San Francisco.

6. Reallocate funding toward lower-tier state universities and away from flagship schools.

7. Don’t expect old-style unions to come back.

That is only a sampling.  The broader vision is that the Republicans can and must find a way to be more friendly to the non-rich.  Personally I don’t see any reason to tie all of this to the Republican Party but I agree with most of their proposals.  There’s a great deal of common sense here and it stands as one best general policy books in a long time.

The deep question is why something like this hasn’t already happened.  You’ll find the superficial "Republicans are just pro-corporate crooks" answer from bloggers like Kathy G.  Another possibility is that Republicans don’t get much electoral credit for pro-poor initiatives (just as many voters simply won’t believe that "Democrats can be tough").  The more competitive political messaging becomes, the more this constraint binds and so the policies of upward redistribution are more likely to be enacted by Republicans in the resulting political equilibrium.  If the authors are to get their way somehow this dynamic must be reversed.

Addendum: I’ve met Reihan only in passing and I have not had substantive correspondence with either of the authors.  Nonetheless the authors thank me in the conclusion for having saved them from "all manner of errors"; maybe this is another instance of the influence of blogs.

Second Addendum: You’ll find links to video and audio on the book at Ross’s blog.


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