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Over at The Washington Times, Cato's Chris Edwards suggests that, instead of trying to lure social conservatives from the GOP fold, Democrats should try their hand at fiscal conservatism. Surely someone should.

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  1. Well, I’m a fiscal conservative, and not a social conservative, so I agree that this would be nice. But the Cato guy is committing the classic pundit’s fallacy of assuming that his preferred outcome is shared by the American voting public.

    Fact is, social conservatism is a lot more prevelant than fiscal conservatism. If I wasn’t working, I’d dig up the polling data, but I believe there are a lot more socially conservative/fiscally statist folks than the reverse. It may sound shocking to us, but libertarianism is probably over-represented among politicians. There are a lot of voters in that socially conservative/fiscally statist group, and not too many politicians there. On the other hand, apart from the people reading this, and various journalists, academics and other elites, there aren’t a ton of fiscally conservative/socially liberal people. Yet that’s where a lot of “moderate” politicans have positioned themselves.

    It’s depressing.

  2. The lifestyle stuff angries up the blood and gets out the vote. The green eyeshade stuff doesn’t. But for everyone voting for theocracy there’s probably .8 people voting against. Just have to increase the latter number and sucking up to the fundies is a loser for the Democrats. They’re spoken for.

    Seems to me the two parties look like this:

    D – tax and spend; socially liberal
    R – borrow and spend; socially conservative

    I’m socially liberal and if you’re going to spend, as certain as the sun will rise, at least paying for it is a good idea. Has Bush turned me into a democrat? Wasn’t planning on that. Nah, but I’ll probably be voting for more of them.

  3. The “Wahsington Times”?

    Doesn’t the fact that the article is printed in the “Washington Times” prove that it was not intended to be read by a single person who might vote democrat?

    And people wonder why I think so little of Cato these days.

    Asking me to believe that such an article printed in the “Washington Times” is sincere, is like asking me to believe that Castro acts the way he does because he “loves” his people so much.

  4. yeah no one can convince me that the democrats are socialy libral…sorry but it was wilson who signed the espeinoge and inserection act and it was democrats who were responsible for jim crow and it is the democrats who outlaw prayer in school (and i am not talking about school sanctioned prayer but simply students praying at lunch) and it was democrats who pushed for hate speach legislation and it was tipper who wanted to regulate movies and it is hilary who wants to outlaw grand theft auto and it was the democrats who pushed for sexual harasment legislation. I have never been a resipiant of sexual harasment accusations but i have seen it first hand and if you think this has anything with proteting women in the work place you are very very wrong.

    sorry dude but the democrats are not the protectors of civil liberty that you make them out to be.

    here is your matric
    D – tax and spend; socially liberal
    R – borrow and spend; socially conservative

    here is mine

    D – tax, borrow and spend, socially conservative (in favor of groups that support them and highly effective at it)
    R borrow and spend (but a little less then dems) socially conservative (in favor of groups that support them and generally ineffective at it)

  5. “D – tax, borrow and spend, socially conservative (in favor of groups that support them and highly effective at it)
    R borrow and spend (but a little less then dems) socially conservative (in favor of groups that support them and generally ineffective at it)”

    Joshua,

    The last 12 years make your statement above completely useless. If you’re still using Woodrow Wilson as an instance of modern Democrat political thought, you’ve got some other big problems too.

  6. You may have heard that a rut is a grave with the ends kicked out.
    Dems and Goppers have been in parallel ruts for some time. They shift their ruts a bit when the other one seems more popular, but ruts they shall always occupy.

  7. Doesn’t the fact that the article is printed in the “Washington Times” prove that it was not intended to be read by a single person who might vote democrat?

    And people wonder why I think so little of Cato these days.

    And if it were printed somewhere Democrats read, the letters column the next day would be full of hissing at the evil conservative. At least in Republican circles, some faction of readers might think this fiscal-conservatism idea sounds crazy, but intriguing. 😉

  8. M1EK

    “The last 12 years make your statement above completely useless.”

    Well that would include the last few years of the clinton administration…and the republican house which balanced the budget. You know the contract with america thing…or are you one of those gore clones who think it was the democrates who balanced it??

    “If you’re still using Woodrow Wilson as an instance of modern Democrat political thought, you’ve got some other big problems too.”

    Ok how about FDR and the japanese internment camps? or is that not modern enough for you? Seeing as how republicans push to reform social security has been called by democrates as an atempt to undo FDR’s “new deal” i think it is only fair to include his internment camps as part of the new deal. Also Wilson wasn’t my only example. But you have to admit Wilson was the intelectual father of the UN and the democrates seem very reluctant to reform the UN…if the democrates and the UN wish to call the Iraq war an illigal war isn’t also fair to bring up some of Wilson’s other intellectual wonders…like the espionoge and sedition act?

  9. joshua,

    Any generalizations you make on the two big political parties which is based on events predating the 1960s realignment of the dixiecrats is useless (and probably, in your case, purposefully misleading).

    Is that specific enough for you?

  10. I was wondering who was responsible for RICO, money laundering, and the criminal forfeiture laws? I am thinking it was both Democrats and Republicans, but I can’t remember.

  11. “Democrats snipe at Republicans for just about everything — except their reckless spending.”

    I must have imagined John Kerry taking a break from slapping Bush around about the war to slap him around about the deficit during the debates. Remember Bush’s pun about “Pay-Go?” Har har har, that was funny.

    I must have imagined all those Paul Krugman columns.

    I must have imagined Bill Clinton and Ross Perot in 1992, and Al Gore hitting Bush for his “risky tax scheme” that would “blow up the deficit” in 2000.

    The author is also wrong to present “reaching out to values voters” and “arguing fiscal conservatism” as competing strategies. The national debt is a values issue – it’s about leaving debt for our kids and grandkids. It’s about living within our means and not being irresponsible and extravagent. The point of Democratic attempts to reach out to “social conservatives” is not to try to out-Jeebus the theocons, but to appeal to people’s values with Democratic issues. It shows how little Republican think of their base that they assume that Bible thumping and queer bashing are the only ways to appeal to their values.

  12. Eric the .5b,

    Maybe I misunderstood the “article”. I could have sworn it was advice to “democrats”. That is exaclty my point, it was never intended to be read by demos. It was intended to help support the old malarky, that you obviously swallow, that republicans, and the phrase “fiscal conservative” belong in the same sentence. (oh if only the deomos were more responsible, maybe this wouldn’t be happening, it can’t be because the repubs control the senate, house and presidency, no not our precious neo-red menace, pro-centralized government republicans are doing it)

    Actually my point was reading this was like reading communist rags from my local reds, completely full of it.

    The “washington times” is about a sincere outlet of intelligent thought as a Castro policy paper.

  13. Oh, looks like it was the Republicans and the Dixiecrats. http://www.criticism.com/policy/republicans-crime-policy.php

    Joshua: I find the Republicans to be very effective at crushing civil liberties when it suits them.

  14. Oh, looks like it was the Republicans and the Dixiecrats. http://www.criticism.com/policy/republicans-crime-policy.php

    Joshua: I find the Republicans to be very effective at crushing civil liberties when it suits them.

    Also, I think Clinton did have just a little bit to do with balancing the budget: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/politics/special/budget/stories/020398.htm

  15. joe,

    You’re right. Paul Krugman has been proven (scientifically!) beyond a shadow of a doubt to be a figment of the imagination.

    Josh Corning,
    The plural of democrat is democrats, not democrates. It was one of my pet peeves from working in DC; angry letters from conservatives calling Democrats Democrates. Democrates was a greek, not a nanny statist.
    However, feel free to use the witty phrasing, “demoncrats,” which was also quite popular with the angry letter-writing populace.

  16. Isn’t “borrow and spend” better than “tax and spend”? I can foresee a scenario where debt servicing costs become such a large part of public spending that we’re forced into some type of crisis, which could play out in interesting ways:

    1) default (not bloody likely)
    2) increase of money supply = inflation (not very likely with Greenspan or his heir in the picture, and besides both parties saw what happened to Carter and Nixon). Ditto for monkeying with the exchange rate. Public backlash could lead to a myopic outcome #2(a), a return to the gold standard.
    3) dramatic raising of taxes — I would argue this is extremely unlikely due to the political consequences
    4) some type of restructuring of our non-debt-servicing obligations (e.g., privatizing social security, recalling our forces abroad)
    5) outright sale of assets such as national forests, prime downtown real estate.

    As a libertarian, isn’t #4 or #5 a lot more likely than hoping for Ron Paul’s resonance?

  17. Isn’t “borrow and spend” better than “tax and spend”? I can foresee a scenario where debt servicing costs become such a large part of public spending that we’re forced into some type of crisis, which could play out in interesting ways:

    1) default (not bloody likely)
    2) increase of money supply = inflation (not very likely with Greenspan or his heir in the picture, and besides both parties saw what happened to Carter and Nixon). Ditto for monkeying with the exchange rate. Public backlash could lead to a myopic outcome #2(a), a return to the gold standard.
    3) dramatic raising of taxes — I would argue this is extremely unlikely due to the political consequences
    4) some type of restructuring of our non-debt-servicing obligations (e.g., privatizing social security, recalling our forces abroad)
    5) outright sale of assets such as national forests, prime downtown real estate.

    As a libertarian, isn’t #4 or #5 a lot more likely than hoping for Ron Paul’s resonance?

  18. Isn’t “borrow and spend” better than “tax and spend”? I can foresee a scenario where debt servicing costs become such a large part of public spending that we’re forced into some type of crisis, which could play out in interesting ways:

    1) default (not bloody likely)
    2) increase of money supply = inflation (not very likely with Greenspan or his heir in the picture, and besides both parties saw what happened to Carter and Nixon). Ditto for monkeying with the exchange rate. Public backlash could lead to myopic outcome #2(a), a return to the gold standard.
    3) dramatic raising of taxes — I would argue this is extremely unlikely due to the political consequences
    4) some type of restructuring of our non-debt-servicing obligations (e.g., privatizing social security, recalling our forces abroad)
    5) outright sale of assets such as national forests, prime downtown real estate.

    As a libertarian, isn’t #4 or #5 a lot more likely than hoping for Ron Paul’s resonance?

  19. The Democratic party supports the drug war, voted for the patriot act in overwhelming numbers, and has not really done much to support civil liberties. The republicans are just as bad but at least they support more economic and regulatory freedom. The social conservatives are obnoxious and get lots of attention but their policy victories are not that numerous.

    I detests the democrats. I probably detest the republicans more because they mostly turn out to be two faced hypocrites whenever they get power. Any candidate that works toward not increasing the size of government is likely to get my vote whatever their party label is.

  20. David: Ah, the Grover Norquist argument. By the time the crisis you postulate hits, #4 and #5 won’t make a dent, and #2 will occur by default, or if the Fed responds with higher interest rates, the rates will likely exceed those of the early 1980’s, with the attendant consequences to the economy, but over a much, much longer period of time. By the way, when #2 happens, there will be people who will still contend the deficit had nothing to do with it, including Grover.

  21. Randolph,

    Reagan proved that Paul Krugman doesn’t matter.

    “2) increase of money supply = inflation (not very likely with Greenspan or his heir in the picture” Oh, goodie, the Fed can clamp down hard on economic growth. I feel so much better.

  22. Ron:

    Okay, but isn’t #2 better than (and more likely than) #3? Middle class americans are smart — in a high inflation environment they will open swiss bank accounts or buy gold bullion, as happened in the 70s (can’t say as much for the poor). And in any case, isn’t a “silent tax” that falls mostly on borrowers better than an outright tax (pay as you go)?

    Joe has a good point, the whole “protect our children from inherited debt” has a built-in appeal to the same type of people who think the world is running out of oil and the sky is falling. The problem is that no one actually believes the democrats will use the savings towards debt relief rather than increased spending. (And in that respect, they’re only slightly less believable than the republicans.)

  23. “The problem is that no one actually believes the democrats will use the savings towards debt relief rather than increased spending.”

    REASON QUIZ:

    The last time we paid down any of the national debt, the party holding the Presidency was:

    (a) The Republican Party
    (b) The Libertarian Party
    (c) Also The Republican Party
    (d) No, I Mean It, The Republicans Really Are The Fiscally Conservative Ones
    (e) All Right, But I Still Liked My Tax Cut

  24. However, feel free to use the witty phrasing, “demoncrats,” which was also quite popular with the angry letter-writing populace.

    If he starts using that, does that mean that joe gets to use “Rethuglicans?”;)

  25. “REASON QUIZ:

    The last time we paid down any of the national debt, the party holding the Presidency was:”

    yup and it was Al Gore who invented the internet…sorry M1EK but it was the GOP lead house that did the vast majority of heavy lifting….and Ross Perot had more to do with a balanced budget then Clinton did.

    A balanced budget is not what Clinton ran on in either of his elections…ross perot did..same with many of the house Republicans.

    By the way was it really balanced…as i recall it only balanced becouse of social security…which has since declined. Why has social security recipts to pay out gone down…as well as not having anything to show for it? oh yeah that would be the democrats in power for 40 years before who thought it good domestic policy to spend it.

    And why again is pre60s democratic policy not open to critisism again…i mean Senator Byrd was a member of the KKK for god sakes…and you are saying it isn’t relevent..pishah to freind…not when Condalisa Rice is secretary of state and the democrats policies have lead to continued poverty and inner city strife among minorities.

  26. Joe, at 2:55, provides evidence that the Democrats are more fiscally responsible than the current crop of Republicans. I must agree. However, there is precious little evidence that they are any more fiscally conservative than Republicans, in the sense where “fiscal conservatism” = “low spenders”. Neither party can cop to the “low spenders” title right now, and I see little evidence that either is willing to rein in spending. The Ds are a little more honest, in that their willing to levy taxes for their nonsense, whereas the Rs are expecting me to pay for their spending sometime down the road. Probably by eroding the value of my savings. Which is worse: the party that makes savings difficult because of higher taxes or the party that lulls you into thinking that you are saving when at the last minute value gets inflated away?

    From the time I could first vote in 1981, I don’t believe I’ve ever cast a vote for a Democrat, based mostly on economic freedom issues. In the last election, my choice was between Kerry and Bednarik. Bush had disqualified himself on many fronts: economics, civil rights, military mis-use, diplomacy. Once it became clear that Kerry would carry Oregon, I went for Bednarik, but I would have gladly voted for Kerry if I thought the vote was needed to defeat Bush.

  27. Portlander,

    Hey I did almost the same thing. Exept i felt the way you did about Bush the way i felt about Kerry: who disqualified himself on many fronts: economics, civil rights, military mis-use, diplomacy.

    anyway when I saw that Washington State was going for Kerry I voted for Badnarick. If I lived in Florida or Ohio I would have went for Bush.

  28. However, feel free to use the witty phrasing, “demoncrats,” which was also quite popular with the angry letter-writing populace.

    Or even better, “DemonRATS,” which is not only even wittier but improves with every repetition.

    If he starts using that, does that mean that joe gets to use “Rethuglicans?”;)

    Or simply “Repugs.” (And you know, I was under the impression that joe had already used this term once or twice — but according to a Google search, he has NOT. NOT ONCE.) (Kevin Carson, on the other hand …)

  29. The Democratic party supports the drug war, voted for the patriot act in overwhelming numbers, and has not really done much to support civil liberties.

    This is true for the most part, and as a Democrat I am not proud of it. However, three recent votes in the House of Representatives show that Democrats are generally better than Republicans on drug war and civil liberties issues.

    In June, 145 Democrats and only 15 Republicans voted for the Hinchey-Rohrbacher Amendment, which would have prohibited the federal government from undermining state medical marijuana laws. Later in June, 117 Democrats and only 12 Republicans voted against a constitutional amendment that would allow the prohibition of flag desecration. In July, 156 Democrats voted against making the so-called USA “PATRIOT” Act permanent. Only 14 Republicans did so.

    I’ll admit that the Democratic Party is far from perfect on personal freedom issues, but it is clearly better than the Republican Party.

  30. yup and it was Al Gore who invented the internet

    Yes, repeating this imaginary utterance never gets tired. It’s truly the punchline to end all comedy. Who among us doesn’t hate Al Gore so much that we have to invent, I mean take the lead in developing, fictional stories to prove his evil? “Did ya hear Al Gore actually stated that he likes dogs? What a pompous dog-fucker! I’m just gonna hafta cast my vote for the other fella, the guy who doesn’t engage in butt sex with canines!”

    While you’re digging up ancient talk radio scripts, don’t forget “Bush won – get over it.” That one drives the libruls crazy! Haw haw!

  31. sorry M1EK but it was the GOP lead house that did the vast majority of heavy lifting….and Ross Perot had more to do with a balanced budget then Clinton did.

    Very true.

    This would suggest that the best way to deal with deficits is to have a frugal GOP Congress, and a Democrat in the White House.

    It would also suggest that the best way to get deficit reduction on the table is to give as many votes as possible to a third party spoiler who talks about reducing the deficit.

    So, how many people here voted for Badnarik while rooting for Kerry to win?

  32. “Joshua: I find the Republicans to be very effective at crushing civil liberties when it suits them.”

    really, ya think? 🙂

    Actually I know democrats are no saints I’m just disgusted with the current world is all.

  33. “It would also suggest that the best way to get deficit reduction on the table is to give as many votes as possible to a third party spoiler who talks about reducing the deficit.”

    Except when that leads to electing the worst of the two realistic candidates. OOPS.

  34. So, how many people here voted for Badnarik while rooting for Kerry to win?

    Ow, thoreau, that hurts. Until one realizes that Badnarik was not quite the spoiler that Perot was. How long until Buchanan or some far-right balanced budgeter comes along to ruin it for nominee Jeb Bush? I’d hold my nose and vote for him, as long as he wasn’t blatantly mercantilistic. Wanting to bring the troops home would almost cancel out being anti-free trade.

  35. Shem,

    “If he starts using that, does that mean that joe gets to use “Rethuglicans?”;)”

    I prefer ‘Publicans. You know, as opposed to the Plebians.

  36. “sorry M1EK but it was the GOP lead house that did the vast majority of heavy lifting”

    Bullshit. The fiscal policy that governed in the 1990s was first produced in the budget deal between George HW Bush and the DEMOCRATIC Congress, against the wishes of the Republican minority. Republicans responded by rebelling against George Bush. After some internal debate, Clinton’s administration adhered to the budget protocols, and put forward the economic/fiscal/budgetary policy that paid down the national debt. It was passed by the DEMOCRATIC Congress, without receiving even a single ‘Publican vote.

    By the time the ‘Publicans took over Congress, it was 1995, we were well into the recovery, and the heavy lifting had already been done.

  37. You hear that, thoreau? “This would suggest that the best way to deal with deficits is to have a frugal GOP Congress, and a Democrat in the White House.” The budget policy in question, the one that was in place through the 1990s, was produced by a Democratic president and a Democratic Congress.

    “A balanced budget was not what Clinton ran on in either of his elections.” Remind me, what night did Bush give his “I’m-a gonna invade Iraq” speech in the 2000 Republican convention?

  38. joe-

    My post was in response to this:
    yup and it was Al Gore who invented the internet…sorry M1EK but it was the GOP lead house that did the vast majority of heavy lifting….and Ross Perot had more to do with a balanced budget then Clinton did.

    If that poster is correct, then it would indeed suggest that a divided government is the way to go.

    Of course, if you are correct, then a different conclusion might be drawn.

    My point was to explore the implications of somebody else’s post, and show that some of the implications might not match up with his intentions.

    You gotta look at the nuances and context here, joe ;->

  39. M1EK,

    “Except when that leads to electing the worst of the two realistic candidates. OOPS.”

    Yeah I agree, Clinton was the worst of the two realistic candidates in the ’92 elections. 🙂

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