"A-Punk" - Vampire Weekend
Wasting time at the office on this holiday weekend. Need to clean the desk and tend to a few things so I can hit the ground running tomorrow. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.
- Ramesh Ponnuru has a piece in the New York Times today about updating the Republican Party's ideas to face the reality of today. I say good luck with that. Ponnuru largely echoes the kind of ideas put forth by Ross Douthat and Reihan Salam in Grand New Party -- policies that are supposed to aid the American working class, the so-called "Sam's Club" voters, who are supposed to be the new face of the Republican Party. Like Douthat and Salam, Ponnuru acknowledges that income tax cuts for the wealthy -- the north star of Republican policy for the last 35 years -- have done nothing for the white working class, the constituency upon which Republican success rests. He argues for economic policies that do not fit within the current Republican mania for smaller government and deficit reduction (yes, we know this is a selective obsession).
All three would like to see the payroll tax burden reduced -- which raises obvious questions about how to preserve the long term solvency of Social Security and Medicare, programs that are more important than ever to working class Americans, who by and large lack the traditional pensions and other resources for secure retirements. They all argue, as well, for an expanded child tax credit -- in other words a wealth transfer that would favor married couples with children, an attempt to "nudge" people in the direction of stable family formation and to support "traditional" families. This right wing social engineering will be paid for by not lowering taxes on the wealthy (and maybe even increasing them), a bit of a heresy in the era of Paul Ryan and Rand Paul and the heroic job creators of the upper class. In other words it is a form of wealth redistribution on behalf of people who adopt a family structure of which Ponnuru, Douthat, and Salam approve. (Along with a number of other social conservatives, all three are convinced that the sexual revolution has been disastrous for the working class -- one suspects that advocating for its repeal may prove less popular with its intended audience.)
It seems to me that Ponnuru and his allies are on to something in acknowledging that plutocratic economic policies aren't really going to deliver that which the working class needs. However, I don't see how they can sell this sort of thing to a party that has fully committed itself to the notion that taxes must go down at all times and that government has nothing to offer to people.
Similarly, the young Republicans portrayed in this lengthy New York Times Magazine piece, who are troubled by the GOP's hateful attitudes towards gays and immigrants -- which most Americans in the 18-29 demographic find to be at least puzzling if not abhorrent -- don't seem to have a very clear idea of how one does a 180 on these kinds of issues without alienating the folks who support you that very reason. The Republican Party, minus its hater constituency, is a pretty small club. (Of course a large number of the young right wingers interviewed in this article see the GOP's problems as more a result of bad messaging and technological backwardness rather than the Party platform.) Can one really form a majority party based on cutting taxes and government spending rather than based on various forms of white resentment? Color me skeptical.
What's on your minds?