Friday, March 18, 2005

Shifting Parties

Well, a little while back, I expressed the sentiment that compromise was necessary, and that it would have to be found on economic issues. My reasoning was that since the country was so divided on social issues (abortion, gay marriages, place of religion in government) but both sides seemed to have common ground on the economic debate. Thus it was with a certain sense of satisfaction when Matt Yglesias pointed out that the common ground comes with vanishing republican economic ideals. What separates the parties is not so much the big government/small government argument, since the constituents of both parties are in favor of continuing government spending. Well, I wish there had been a study linked to show it... I'll get on that in a minute. I attribute some of the problem to blissful voter ignorance; when people are asked if they want a tax cut, they say yes. If they're asked if they want an increased education budget, they say yes. Matt implies that the evidence lies in the way "the forces of conservatism are doing a very good job of pretending that the level of public expenditure and the level of public revenue are just unrelated topics," and if asked to choose:
It's pretty obvious that given a straight-up choices between paid-for tax cuts and the continuation of public expenditures, that support for the continuation of expenditures is very strong.
Two foundations of democratic economic policy as I see them are funding for federal programs, and trying to balance the budget (I hardly think the modern republican party has maintained its reputation of fiscal responsibility, especially after Reagan). Interestingly enough, with more GOP senators advocating combatting the deficit and yesterday's vote to protect states' Medicaid (for the time being, at least) it's pretty clear that our country is more and more of one mind.

Unfortunately while I feel smug, with the republican party no longer representing the economic conservatives, their only stance will be social conservativism. So we could balance the deficit, save social security, and cancel the top-heavy tax cuts, but we'll be doing it in the name of God.


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