Republicans Are Not Interested in Solving Problems

Marco RubioIt was just the other day that I was writing about how boring politics is. And the fault is entirely the Republicans’. There’s really nothing to discuss. There are no proposals for fixing problems. I mean really: the Republicans are not interested in any problems. It is all faith based politics. Their approach to guns is the perfect example. We can’t do anything about them because doing even the smallest thing would destroy some kind of vague ideological purity. But when it comes to guns, I don’t so much care because even the changes that liberals propose are unlikely to improve matters.

But on the economic front, it’s downright funny. Marco Rubio is running around the country talking about all his new ideas and how we must vote for him because he’s young and “the future.” And his ideas are that we ought to do exactly what Ronald Reagan did. There’s a big problem with this. Even if you think that Reagan’s policies worked great, they haven’t worked great since then. There are diminishing returns. It might well be true that cutting the top tax rate from 90% to 70% had a big effect. But will cutting it from 39.6% to 30.8% have as big an effect? I think the case is much stronger that it will have the opposite effect: we are now at the point that giving rich people even more money hurts the economy.

Noah Smith talked about this last year with regard to deregulation:

So… maybe Free Market Nirvana would get us there. Maybe. But it seems to me that even beneficial types of market liberalization, like every other policy improvement, are subject to diminishing returns — the low-hanging fruit gets picked first. The Kennedy tax cuts seemed to produce a burst of growth, the Reagan tax cuts a more modest bump, and the Bush tax cuts basically nothing. There’s no reason to think the same isn’t true of deregulation.

But this is what Rubio and the rest of the Republicans have on offer. And the point is not that cutting taxes would improve the economy. It is just that they are ideologically committed to cutting taxes because helping the rich is just the right thing to do. It’s like the “small government” obsession that Republicans have. They can’t give you a reason why small government is good. It is just an article of faith that it is good. Of course, they don’t actually believe in small government. They just say they are as a justification for cutting programs that help the poor and middle classes and spending more on programs that help the rich.

Conservatives are not interested in solving problems. In as much as they engage with them, it is simply to stop anything from ever being done about them.

Yesterday, Paul Krugman wrote, TINA and the ACA. It’s about how yet again, the Republicans have failed to come up with an alternative to Obamacare. It all comes down to what I’ve been talking about for year, Obamacare is the conservative policy solution for our broken healthcare system. So it is no surprise that they find it impossible to come up with a conservative alternative to it. They are against doing anything at all — on principle.

Every idea they’ve ever come up with in the past was only proposed defensively. They wanted something they could hold up to stop a more liberal plan from being enacted. This is the basis of Jonathan Chait’s Heritage Uncertainty Principle. If a policy doesn’t involve helping the rich or hurting the poor, the Republicans really aren’t interested in it. That’s a depressing fact about modern American politics.

So we liberals can get together and talk about different approaches to solving problems. But conservatives are not interested in solving problems. In as much as they engage with them, it is simply to stop anything from ever being done about them. What a sad world they live in. And what an awful world they are trying to create for all the rest of us.

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

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