Last Monday, Paul Krugman wrote, The Long-Run Cop-Out. That’s a reference to Keynes’ observation that it is meaningless to talk about the “long run” because in the long run, we are all dead. In fact, before he wrote the column, I wrote an article following off one of his blog posts, “Serious” Economics Is Just a Stalling Tactic. That’s what all that “long run” and “structural reform” is all about: avoiding doing anything that might help, and more important, might cause the rich a couple of bucks.
But while reading it, I began to wonder about something else. I’ve noticed that the Republicans have started to sound a whole lot more reasonable about matters economic. Namely, they are starting to talk about things that actually would help the economy. And why is that? Well, it’s no secret. Obama is at the end of his time as president. They are hopeful that they will control the White House as of 2017. So they are laying the ground work now. They are getting ready for more of their traditional work as The Wrecking Crew. It’s the same thing we saw with economist Greg Mankiw who was for stimulus under George W Bush, against it under Obama, and then again for it in the middle of 2012 as a Romney advisor — looking forward to a Romney presidency.
Later that week, Jonathan Chait wrote, Will Republicans Stop Beating Around the Bush? As with Krugman, he isn’t writing about this subject. But he did mention an important part of it:
The majority of the GOP now recognizes this lurch into anti-government purity was a mistake. The question is not whether the Republican party returns to Bushism, but whether its return is complete enough that this return can be led by George W Bush’s actual brother.
Maybe I’m just too cynical. I don’t think that the Republicans have just woken from their fever and now understand that they were mistaken. All that’s changed is the environment. And if a good economy sweeps Hillary Clinton or another Democrat into the White House, the Republicans will find that actually, that “Hell no!” position was right all along. They will convince themselves that the real reason they lost was that they had the wrong candidate and that what they really should have done was run a True Conservative™. If only they had run on a platform of ending abortion except in the case of legitimate rape, starving the darkies, and cutting the taxes of the only oppressed minority in America — the rich! Then they would have won!
It would seem that only far left cranks like me are supposed to mention this clear reality that what the Republicans actually think about government spending is only dependent upon who’s doing the spending. But it is well established. The Republicans aren’t for a small or even smaller government. They want a big, invasive government. They want to pick the winners. They just want those winners to be their wealthy friends. There is no reason to avoid saying this. It’s just the truth.