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Mon Dec 28, 2015, 04:32 PM

Doubling down on W (by Paul Krugman)

2015 was, of course, the year of Donald Trump, whose rise has inspired horror among establishment Republicans and, let’s face it, glee — call it Trumpenfreude — among many Democrats. But Trumpism has in one way worked to the G.O.P. establishment’s advantage: it has distracted pundits and the press from the hard right turn even conventional Republican candidates have taken, a turn whose radicalism would have seemed implausible not long ago.

After all, you might have expected the debacle of George W. Bush’s presidency — a debacle not just for the nation, but for the Republican Party, which saw Democrats both take the White House and achieve some major parts of their agenda — to inspire some reconsideration of W-type policies. What we’ve seen instead is a doubling down, a determination to take whatever didn’t work from 2001 to 2008 and do it again, in a more extreme form.

Start with the example that’s easiest to quantify, tax cuts.

Big tax cuts tilted toward the wealthy were the Bush administration’s signature domestic policy. They were sold at the time as fiscally responsible, a matter of giving back part of the budget surplus America was running when W took office. (Alan Greenspan infamously argued that tax cuts were needed to avoid paying off federal debt too fast.) Since then, however, over-the-top warnings about the evils of debt and deficits have become a routine part of Republican rhetoric; and even conservatives occasionally admit that soaring inequality is a problem.

Moreover, it’s harder than ever to claim that tax cuts are the key to prosperity. At this point the private sector has added more than twice as many jobs under President Obama as it did over the corresponding period under W, a period that doesn’t include the Great Recession. You might think, then, that Bush-style tax cuts would be out of favor. In fact, however, establishment candidates like Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush are proposing much bigger tax cuts than W ever did. And independent analysis of Jeb’s proposal shows that it’s even more tilted toward the wealthy than anything his brother did.

What about other economic policies? The Bush administration’s determination to dismantle any restraints on banks — at one staged event, a top official used a chain saw on stacks of regulations — looks remarkably bad in retrospect. But conservatives have bought into the thoroughly debunked narrative that government somehow caused the Great Recession, and all of the Republican candidates have declared their determination to repeal Dodd-Frank, the fairly modest set of regulations imposed after the financial crisis.

The only real move away from W-era economic ideology has been on monetary policy, and it has been a move toward right-wing fantasyland. True, Ted Cruz is alone among the top contenders in calling explicitly for a return to the gold standard — you could say that he wants to Cruzify mankind upon a cross of gold. (Sorry.) But where the Bush administration once endorsed “aggressive monetary policy” to fight recessions, these days hostility toward the Fed’s efforts to help the economy is G.O.P. orthodoxy, even though the right’s warnings about imminent inflation have been wrong again and again.

Last but not least, there’s foreign policy. You might have imagined that the story of the Iraq war, where we were not, in fact, welcomed as liberators, where a vast expenditure of blood and treasure left the Middle East less stable than before, would inspire some caution about military force as the policy of first resort. Yet swagger-and-bomb posturing is more or less universal among the leading candidates. And let’s not forget that back when Jeb Bush was considered the front-runner, he assembled a foreign-policy team literally dominated by the architects of debacle in Iraq.

Why does this matter? It's important to realize that not being Donald Trump doesn’t make someone a moderate, or even halfway reasonable. The truth is that there are no moderates in the Republican primary, and being reasonable appears to be a disqualifying characteristic for anyone seeking the party’s nod.

At: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/12/28/opinion/doubling-down-on-w.html?smid=fb-nytimes&smtyp=cur&_r=0

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Reply Doubling down on W (by Paul Krugman) (Original post)
forest444 Dec 2015 OP
underpants Dec 2015 #1
forest444 Dec 2015 #2
underpants Dec 2015 #3
CTyankee Dec 2015 #4
forest444 Dec 2015 #5
lastlib Dec 2015 #6
Midnight Writer Dec 2015 #7
xocet Dec 2015 #8

Response to forest444 (Original post)

Mon Dec 28, 2015, 04:35 PM

1. Fox News ignores that W happened so they do too

And, they have to play their greatest hits or the base will not follow them. They simplified their message to a point that doesn't allow them any room to move.

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Response to underpants (Reply #1)

Mon Dec 28, 2015, 04:40 PM

2. The pitfall of all fascists, alas.

Their rhetoric becomes so inflexible, oversimplified, and extreme, that eventually none of its followers, or even leaders, truly "qualify." Like a snake eating its proverbial tail.

Coincidentally, this was my post number 1,984.

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Response to forest444 (Reply #2)

Mon Dec 28, 2015, 04:43 PM

3. Ironic

Congrats

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Response to forest444 (Original post)

Mon Dec 28, 2015, 08:51 PM

4. I adore Paul Krugman. That is all.

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Response to CTyankee (Reply #4)

Mon Dec 28, 2015, 09:10 PM

5. In a parallel universe somewhere,

there is a shining example to the world called the United States of America, whose humane sense of equality puts Scandinavia to shame, whose President is Bernie Sanders, whose Federal Reserve truly is an independent government body, and whose Chairman is Paul Krugman.

(well, a man dream can't he).

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Response to forest444 (Original post)

Mon Dec 28, 2015, 09:18 PM

6. Krugman really nails it in this.

Essentially, the current GOP theme is, it didn't work under GWB, so we have to do it more and bigger! (They're gambling that fewer than half of the voters will be able to figure out that more of a disastrous policy only produces greater disaster.) It's what I posited as Bush's Law back in the 1988 campaign, illustrated by Poppy Bush: "A politician will be successful in direct proportion to his ability to persuade a majority of voters that the bullshit he is feeding them is actually whipped cream."

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Response to forest444 (Original post)

Tue Dec 29, 2015, 12:18 AM

7. "Trickle Down" policies don't require proof, it is a matter of faith

Faith in the resurrection of the Smiling Saint Ronald Reagan. All that is needed is an invocation of the Great Saint's name, and millions of the faithful will flock in support.

No thought need be involved; just believe with all of your heart and you will surely be trickled down upon.

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Response to forest444 (Original post)

Tue Dec 29, 2015, 01:43 AM

8. It is suggested that, for copyrighted material, four paragraphs is all that should be posted...

Don't willfully and habitually infringe on others' copyrights.

To simplify compliance and enforcement of copyrights here on Democratic Underground, we ask that excerpts from other sources posted on Democratic Underground be limited to a maximum of four paragraphs, and we ask that the source of the content be clearly identified. Those who make a good-faith effort to respect the rights of copyright holders are unlikely to have any problems. But individuals who willfully and habitually infringe on others' copyrights risk being in violation of our Terms of Service.

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