The "I'm Sorry" Caucus


Before the elections, I asked Rep. Jeff Flake why libertarians should vote Republican. I was actually shocked at his no-bullshit admission that they shouldn't.

I think Republicans have by and large gone native. I don't know how you can conclude otherwise. You look at any measure of spending—overall spending, mandatory, discretionary, non-defense discretionary, non-homeland security spending—whichever way you slice it, the record looks pretty bad. When you look at where we're heading, with Medicare Part D, it just means that these programs run out of money a lot sooner than they were going to already.

Republicans have adopted the belief or the principle that you spend money to get elected. When I was elected in 2000 it was ingrained in us, and since then it's been even more so: Here's how you get reelected, bring home the bacon. You have the head of the National Republican Congressional Committee, whose job it is to reelect Republicans, saying in defense of his earmarks that it's the job of Congress to create jobs.

What didn't come across in print was how physically exhausted Flake was. When I pushed him to say something positive about the GOP, he'd throw his head back and sigh. But in today's Wall Street Journal, Flake extends those arguments; it sounds like victory has liberated him. For example:

During the 1990s, then-Sen. Phil Gramm accurately described U.S. farm policy as "enough to make a Russian Commissar puke." The Republicans assembled the "Freedom to Farm Act," which, starting in 1996, put U.S. farmers on a glide path toward an end to subsidies. Somewhere between the field and the silo, however, we became mired in the political mud. In 2002, we repealed the Freedom to Farm Act and in its place installed the "Farm Security Act"—those who value the adage about trading freedom for security can pause and shudder here—with even more lavish subsidies.

Now, with reauthorization of the Farm Bill on the horizon next year, we have to decide whether we will up the ante with Democrats in terms of red state/blue state politics in the heartland, or whether we believe our own rhetoric about free markets. This debate will have implications larger than the fiscal one. Most notably, it will determine if we are serious about the future of free trade.

Read it all; Flake is ready to work to rid the GOP of its current pathetic leadership.