Economics

Economic Populists for Lower Corporate Taxes

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The puzzling political analysis of New York Times national correspondent Jackie Calmes continues with a "Congressional Memo" contending that "on the economy" the Republican Party "is increasingly populist." That explains resistance to the Wall Street bailout by Republicans in the House, Calmes says, because "populists do not favor bailouts of Wall Street." For Calmes, the alleged increase in Republican economic populism is of a piece with an increase in "social conservatism," including "opposition to abortion, gay rights and liberalized immigration policies," that has alienated "voters from families that have been Republican for generations." These socially conservative, economically populist Republicans are "less affluent and less educated—and more suspicious of big business—than mainstream Republicans of days past."

But what about all the House Republicans who said they opposed the bailout because it constitutes excessive government intervention in the economy? Calmes quotes Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas), for example, who condemned the Treasury Department's plan as "the slippery slope to socialism." Is socialism the opposite of economic populism? Calmes concedes that "nearly all of the Republican opponents insisted they were upholding the party's principles and its 'brand' by opposing big-government intervention in what should be free markets." Yet somehow she divines that what really motivated them was hostility toward big business.

"To get the [presidential] nomination," Calmes writes, John McCain "made accommodations to the conservatives dominant in the party by his rightward turns on tax cuts and other issues." Do economic populists push a lower corporate tax rate?

Calmes understands that Republican critics of the bailout see themselves as upholding Ronald Reagan's legacy, but she's having none of it:

Republican figures from the Reagan years say these conservatives misread their idol's record of bipartisan compromises. Amid the current financial crisis, several recalled that after the 1987 market crash, Mr. Reagan and the Democratic leaders in Congress negotiated a budget compromise of spending cuts and revenue-raisers to signal to markets that the government was serious about reducing the deficits.

"Ronald Reagan would not be comfortable as a House Republican today. Ronald Reagan was the ultimate pragmatist and fiscal conservative," said Kenneth M. Duberstein, a White House chief of staff to Mr. Reagan.

So Ronald Reagan's fiscal conservatism (overrated, but that's another story) means he would have supported the Treasury Department's plan to spend $700 billion in taxpayers' money on the worst investments it can find?

I realize Calmes' main aim is to shake her head at what she calls the House Republicans' "rigidly ideological stance at a time of economic crisis." But she could at least get the ideology right.

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  1. Just as their is a Lincoln cult, the Gipper’s got one, too. Reagan’s fiscal conservatism is “overrated, but that’s another story”? Like Teddy Kenedy is not exactly a teatotaler, but that’s another bridge…

  2. Jacob-

    Big business is government.

  3. To the Distinguished Gentleman from Texas:

    Its already here.

  4. All discussion around the corporate tax issue is a dollop of crap. Let me tell you why.

    The Government Accountability Office reported this year 68% of American corporations pay no federal income taxes because of offshore shelters and loopholes. NO TAXES PAID. Read it for yourself.

    http://money.cnn.com/2008/08/12/news/economy/corporate_taxes/

  5. And another thing. The corporations who dodged taxes were the big ones. The tax shelters and loopholes don’t benefit entrepreneurial small businesses, but the behemoths.

  6. I think that while Calmes may overstate her case, she’s basically right.

    A whole lot of opposition to the bailout at least in the talk radio circuit, was couched in populist terms. Yes, being anti-govt and being anti-big business happen to bring one to an identical anti-bailout stance. And as politicians are want to do, they’ll talk out of both sides of their mouths (in other words, alternate between anti-big business and anti-govt reasons as it suits them)

    But in my estimation, the only ones taking the ‘principled’ anti-govt stand are people like Paul and Flake. Many of the rest are people who rely on the Huckabee contituency as their base, and who voted in line with this deomgraphic’s views.

  7. Penn,
    So I guess it wouldn’t be that big of a hit to revenue to repeal all corporate taxes, right?

  8. But what about all the House Republicans who said they opposed the bailout because it constitutes excessive government intervention in the economy?

    Personally, I think that the overwhelming majority of them were lying when they said that.

    My evidence that they were lying is…every other vote they have ever cast on every other issue related to the economy, ever.

    I think that these House Republicans suddenly “remembered” that they opposed government intervention in the economy when they got thousands of phone calls from constituents who advanced populist complaints about the bailout of Wall Street financiers. Their protestations about socialism were just shopworn rhetoric they took out of the closet for an afternoon to decorate a vote they made to cater to angry constituents and [as a bonus] to annoy Nancy Pelosi.

  9. One issue that either new president is talking about? There are so many unanswered major problems about the invasion, from education, housing, food stamps,welfare payments, the criminal element and taking American jobs.

    What pariah employers of illegal alien hires don’t pay for and YOU taxpayers do?

    Why do illegal aliens get free health care, when according to a (AARP) American Association of Retired people report. A legal citizen in Seattle is struggling to pay $10,000 worth of medicine to stay alive. My son who has Autism takes a drug that cost $950.00 a month. A lady I know has bi-polar and other health issues and drugs that costs $6000.00 a limited medical insurance.

    Yet illegal aliens can walk into any emergency room and receive free hospital care, prescription drugs, hospitalization and be completely free of any medical bills. American on the other hand are hassled by debt collectors, garnishment of wages and court appearances, because they have a social security number.

    Now the middle class already overburdened with war appropriation funds, is still force to pay for the education, free health-care and Federal, state welfare handouts for illegal criminals. SIGN UP FOR THE SAVE ACT(H.R.4088) enforcement ‘ONLY’ law at http://www.numbersusa.com.

    SIGN JUDICIAL WATCH, A LEGAL ORGANIZATIONS PETITION, TO RESCIND ALL ‘SANCTUARY CITIES & STATES. http://www.sanctuarybusters.org/?source. http://www.numbersusa.com to Petition the SAVE ACT. For immigration facts not propaganda or lies,

    PASS THIS ON COPY, PASTE & DISTRIBUTE FREELY

  10. Brittanicus,
    Did you just post that to satirize economic populism? Or do you actually mean it?

  11. That explains resistance to the Wall Street bailout by Republicans in the House, Calmes says

    Resistance? What resistance? Does Calmes living in a different universe than I do?

  12. “economist”,

    You’re precisely right. Seeing that 68% of corporations pay no taxes, repealing corporate taxes would have very little effect. What’s your point?

  13. But what about all the House Republicans who said they opposed the bailout because it constitutes excessive government intervention in the economy?

    They are a great deal wealthier and higher on the foodchain than the voters the article is about, so of course they are going to be friendlier to the pro-business line than the voters. Ditto with Congressional Democrats.

    So pointing out the goings-on on the Hill doesn’t actually tell us a great deal about movements in the electorate that have happened more recently than the last midterm election.

    In general, Sullum’s post here seems to consist of feigned shock at the fact that most people don’t view left-right identity the way libertarians do. Well, duh.

  14. Yet illegal aliens can walk into any emergency room and receive free hospital care, prescription drugs, hospitalization and be completely free of any medical bills. American on the other hand are hassled by debt collectors, garnishment of wages and court appearances, because they have a social security number.

    Did the obvious solution here escape you because you think citizens have used up all the social security numbers?

  15. The obvious solution you refer to. You mean recreate your identity as that of a illegal alien named jose with no SS#? I’ve often wondered why people who make these claims don’t try this.

  16. I was thinking of the more obvious solution of legalizing illegal aliens and thereby giving them SSN’s, but that does require a government that holds that governments are instituted among men to secure unalienable rights.

    Nonetheless, as you point out, individual Americans who don’t like the asymmetry can avail themselves of the other obvious solution: walking into an emergency room, giving a false name, and getting paid-for care.

  17. The whole point of ideology is that it provides guidance in times of crisis and helps you see through the noise.

    Ideology matters because it impacts your behavior when you are confronted with novel situations.

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