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.

Comments

How about "remaining Republicans are too dumb to recognize their self-interest in any event and Republican politicians are just flat-out crooks, not even pro-corporate crooks, with the occasional sincere religious demagogue thrown in"

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

Apologists for Social Security -- all the way back to its New Deal architects, have adamantly opposed this concept, for the simple reason that if they did this, then they could no longer pretend that the program wasn't brazen, naked welfare (or "the dole" as they called it back then). It absolutely had to be packaged as compulsory savings to pass Congress and win support of Depression-era Americans (who had a very different view of "entitlements" than today's gerontocracy). See also, the fraud of calling FICA taxes "contributions."

A private savings pension it is not, but neither is it a pure welfare plan. FDR wanted to retire a generation or two of old people on SS without building up the cash first. They have died and run off with that money (the "legacy debt") and there is nothing that we can do about that. My current SS annual report suggests that my wife and I will get about $50,000 in social security per year in 2008 dollars. Lower income peopel get less. Take away their contributions/taxes and watch the political pressure mount to increase those monthly checks. If increases in check size cause increases in payroll taxes, this pressure is lowered. It must stink to earn less than the median household income (I think around $50,000 per year now), but continuing to lower their taxes down to zero so that 1/2 of the population isn't contributing would be a bad long term move.

"1. Family-friendly tax reform."

I don't like the sound of that.

As a poor, single 25 year old, it already pisses me off that I heavily subsidize families already.

Re: addendum: or maybe it's primarily status signaling! (Common m.o. of book acknowledgments.)

I think that we need a the GOP to go away and of democrat party to split. Bill Clinton forms an economically liberal party and Obama heads up the democratic socialists.

liberalarts,

i know a lot of people making less than 50k and they all pay income tax. they pay property and sales taxes too. if they dare/are forced to work overtime they're slaughtered by an obscene tax rate. every bill in the mail they pay includes some form of tax: electric, gas, phone, cable. and the standards of their medical care has been lowered w/out lowered costs. you've seen the k-12 numbers of this great land of ours as well i'm sure: they can't teach a cat to meow. the no income tax people are at the lowest of the lowest caste: they work in the underground economy w/me: they are armed to teeth by the way too; i hope people like yourself can keep the aboveground economy running because they'll be looking to come and get some stuff if the wheels of this bus can't continue to go round and round round and round round and round. the agribusiness crooks and cowards are the welfare freaks your scorn and prejudice should be directed toward. lower the corporate tax rate and lower the payroll taxes. there are of course a few welfare
queens w/cadillacs scattered here and there: they shoot
babies out and get gov'ment checks. they're also americans.

I noticed Obama raked in 10 million in an event the other
night. Here we have arguably the closest thing to a
socialist that electoral politics is ever likely to
produce, yet wealthy people (Buffett comes to mind) are so
thrilled at the prospect of an Obama presidency that they
eagerly dispose of their filthy lucre to fund his effort.
Am I to believe that a man who spent his life amassing an
enormous fortune has suddenly become indifferent to wealth?

The Democrat party is a curious amalgam. The foot soldiers
are the foolish, the "superdelegates" with the real power
are the wealthy and powerful.

The Democrats are the party of the rich, they are just
very adept at marketing their policies as favoring the
commoner.

Superheater,

obama's two economic policy advisers are austin goolsbee
and jason furman: are they socialists as well?

surely clement attlee was more socialistic? no?

The Obama=evil socialist meme is a pretty tired one. It might have even been less toothless if not for the fact that every GOP President in recent history has expanded government so broadly, and particularly with a GOP congress to support it. If the GOP gets badly spanked this November, they have absolutely nobody to blame but themselves.

I agree that the GOP has been a dying group for a while, and Karl Rove, George W. Bush, and the Congressional Republicans have merely put the last nail in the coffin.

So what to do? Well my little libertarian heart was hoping the Ron Paul candidacy would shake things up and recharge the conservative base with an actual small government agenda. Then Ron Paul got his ass handed to him in NH and I realized that the GOP and America in general has entered the end stage. Statists have taken over the GOP part and parcel and a warmongering, free-speech-hating, "moderate" career politician got the nomination. At this point I don't care if Obama wins and institutes a dictatorship of the proletariat. If that's what this country wants, then so be it. I'm just sorry I have to witness the decline.

Republicans become Democrats? Never.

What would Jesus do? I am not a religious person but I have found that asking myself that question is most helpful when faced with political and other complex issues. Of course, one needs to read his teachings first.

"Republicans become Democrats? Never."

Either Lord is being tongue in cheek or he has no knowledge of the history of Southern politics.

Who will be the American Disraeli?

You can buy and gain very cheap kamas from our company.

It is enlightening!

Tyler Cowen and Alex Tabarrok are, as far as I can tell, good people (and I've read much of their work). It's a shame that their blog has to so marred by the presence of people like this.

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