ONTD Political

Conservative Columnist David Brooks: The Mother of All No-Brainers

6:25 pm - 07/10/2011

The Republicans have changed American politics since they took control of the House of Representatives. They have put spending restraint and debt reduction at the top of the national agenda. They have sparked a discussion on entitlement reform. They have turned a bill to raise the debt limit into an opportunity to put the U.S. on a stable fiscal course.
Republican leaders have also proved to be effective negotiators. They have been tough and inflexible and forced the Democrats to come to them. The Democrats have agreed to tie budget cuts to the debt ceiling bill. They have agreed not to raise tax rates. They have agreed to a roughly 3-to-1 rate of spending cuts to revenue increases, an astonishing concession.

Moreover, many important Democrats are open to a truly large budget deal. President Obama has a strong incentive to reach a deal so he can campaign in 2012 as a moderate. The Senate majority leader, Harry Reid, has talked about supporting a debt reduction measure of $3 trillion or even $4 trillion if the Republicans meet him part way. There are Democrats in the White House and elsewhere who would be willing to accept Medicare cuts if the Republicans would be willing to increase revenues.

If the Republican Party were a normal party, it would take advantage of this amazing moment. It is being offered the deal of the century: trillions of dollars in spending cuts in exchange for a few hundred billion dollars of revenue increases.

A normal Republican Party would seize the opportunity to put a long-term limit on the growth of government. It would seize the opportunity to put the country on a sound fiscal footing. It would seize the opportunity to do these things without putting any real crimp in economic growth.
The party is not being asked to raise marginal tax rates in a way that might pervert incentives. On the contrary, Republicans are merely being asked to close loopholes and eliminate tax expenditures that are themselves distortionary.

This, as I say, is the mother of all no-brainers.

But we can have no confidence that the Republicans will seize this opportunity. That’s because the Republican Party may no longer be a normal party. Over the past few years, it has been infected by a faction that is more of a psychological protest than a practical, governing alternative.

The members of this movement do not accept the logic of compromise, no matter how sweet the terms. If you ask them to raise taxes by an inch in order to cut government by a foot, they will say no. If you ask them to raise taxes by an inch to cut government by a yard, they will still say no.

The members of this movement do not accept the legitimacy of scholars and intellectual authorities. A thousand impartial experts may tell them that a default on the debt would have calamitous effects, far worse than raising tax revenues a bit. But the members of this movement refuse to believe it.

The members of this movement have no sense of moral decency. A nation makes a sacred pledge to pay the money back when it borrows money. But the members of this movement talk blandly of default and are willing to stain their nation’s honor.

The members of this movement have no economic theory worthy of the name. Economists have identified many factors that contribute to economic growth, ranging from the productivity of the work force to the share of private savings that is available for private investment. Tax levels matter, but they are far from the only or even the most important factor.

But to members of this movement, tax levels are everything. Members of this tendency have taken a small piece of economic policy and turned it into a sacred fixation. They are willing to cut education and research to preserve tax expenditures. Manufacturing employment is cratering even as output rises, but members of this movement somehow believe such problems can be addressed so long as they continue to worship their idol.

Over the past week, Democrats have stopped making concessions. They are coming to the conclusion that if the Republicans are fanatics then they better be fanatics, too.

The struggles of the next few weeks are about what sort of party the G.O.P. is — a normal conservative party or an odd protest movement that has separated itself from normal governance, the normal rules of evidence and the ancient habits of our nation.

If the debt ceiling talks fail, independent voters will see that Democrats were willing to compromise but Republicans were not. If responsible Republicans don’t take control, independents will conclude that Republican fanaticism caused this default. They will conclude that Republicans are not fit to govern.

And they will be right.

I know this originally ran last week, but since it was over a holiday weekend, I think it got overlooked.  While I certainly don't agree with Brooks' assertion that what the GOP is negotiating is a good thing, I do agree that their inability to agree on anything is going to end up coming back to bite them in the ass in the worst possible way.

Additionally, I definitely think it's time for the Democrats in Congress to start acting a little "fanatical" themselves.  They've been reasonable beyond the point of reason, and now need to pull out the heavy bats and start cracking some legislative skulls over there.

layweed 10th-Jul-2011 11:13 pm (UTC)
mswyrr 11th-Jul-2011 05:08 am (UTC)
I read in a random textbook that Rochefeller taught lurved Social Darwinism and was a Sunday School teacher. Made me think of Paul Ryan and his faux Christianity/Ayn Rand hardon. Christ, they both make me sick.
sizequeen 10th-Jul-2011 11:44 pm (UTC)
If the debt ceiling talks fail, independent voters will see that Democrats were willing to compromise but Republicans were not.

Bullshit. The conservative owned and controlled news networks are going to create a narrative of Democratic Party intransigence and incompetence from tax and spend liberals and a GOP that is taking a tough and "brave" stance for America's future.
ubiquitous_a 11th-Jul-2011 12:26 am (UTC)
Well, they're going to try to anyway. Which is why Dems need to get out in front of it and start messaging the idea that this is complete and utter bullshit.
baked_goldfish 10th-Jul-2011 11:52 pm (UTC)
I like how there are two posts today where individual Republicans are calling their party ignorant and fringe-y. Even if one of them is David Brooks, who so often finds a way to call his party ignorant and fringe-y, all while looking like a chipmunk.

Edited at 2011-07-10 11:53 pm (UTC)
ubiquitous_a 11th-Jul-2011 12:26 am (UTC)
(no subject) - Anonymous - Expand
layweed 10th-Jul-2011 11:53 pm (UTC)
Pawlenty was on MTP this morning bragging that he shut down the Minn. government, lol. Idgi.
the_glow_worm 11th-Jul-2011 12:14 am (UTC)
Guys, I have no idea, but how close are we literally to a default? Are Republicans unaware that a default would be a really really bad idea?
ubiquitous_a 11th-Jul-2011 12:28 am (UTC)
The problem is that the far rightwing of their party doesn't care about those pesky reality-based facts. And the actual "mainstream" leaders of the GOP don't have the balls to stand up to the wingnuts.
nicosian 11th-Jul-2011 01:31 am (UTC)
I never got the impression "fiscal responsibility or JOBS!" was the front push of the GOP currently...it may have been that on paper, but it kinda seemed to this outsider that they have done nothing but play obstructionist, and introduce a lot of petty little ideological bills state by state.

But I'm not in the US. but I'm fairly certain I think I'd have heard of some jobs bills or "we need to stop horking money up the corporate ladder" talk at some point.

The GOP "lets run it aground, boys!" is such a dangerous and in some way disrespectful way to approach this. For a party that slavishly worships its americanism, the idea of this sort of retribution reads like a slap across the face of every last citizen.

roseofjuly 11th-Jul-2011 01:58 am (UTC)
There isn't any. The GOP was never really about creating jobs, unless the jobs are the indirect effect of giving some coporate fatcat donors a tax break or government subsidy. They're most concerned with policing and controlling people's private lives and maintaining the power balance status quo with rich straight Christian able-bodied cisgendered white men sitting at the top. Americanism only counts if the "Americans" you are looking at are upper-middle-class white people.
ishachan 11th-Jul-2011 01:33 am (UTC)
On my voter registration card I have no party affiliation even though I tend to lean towards the democrats. I want there to be a Republican that I would actually not mind running for office. I have yet to find one. I feel like the Republicans are bitter and spiteful just because they can and I feel like the obtuseness of some of the republicans in office is down right mind boggling.

The democrats tried to extend the olive branch but the Republicans were determined to be as pig headed and stubborn as possible. People complain the president hasn't done all that he said he would and it's because he's got so many stubborn republicans who would sacrfice the good of the nation for their own agendas.
ubiquitous_a 11th-Jul-2011 05:09 am (UTC)
Exactly. If anything, Democrats have been overly accomodating to these asshats.

I think it's time for a little tough love, myself.
ytterbius 11th-Jul-2011 04:12 am (UTC)
Just finished reading "The Great Limbaugh Con: And Other Right-Wing Assaults on Common Sense". The book was from 1994 but it was totally right on IMO in a scathing attack on the corporate / elite Right, and their essential desire to bring an end to Depmocracy and install a Plutocracy that they are in control of.

Libertarians are already getting excited about the possibility that a default would mean that the US Government would have to cut all of the spending that supports the working classes, while continuing to pay the debt. This would be exactly the idea that "conservatives" as mentioned in the book would support, as the corporate / elite interests would still get their money, but the last Government programs that support everybody else would end.

Conservatives are not elected to Govern. They are elected to tear down Government.
erunamiryene 11th-Jul-2011 02:35 pm (UTC)
bring an end to Democracy and install a Plutocracy that they are in control of

[Mission Accomplished], brought to you by Citizens United and a decade or more of citizens not fucking caring how government works.
hinoema 11th-Jul-2011 04:44 am (UTC)
Moreover, many important Democrats are open to a truly large budget deal...

If the Republican Party were a normal party, it would take advantage of this amazing moment....

But we can have no confidence that the Republicans will seize this opportunity.

Didn't something very like this happen before? Right after Obama was inaugurated, IIRC. His administration offered to hugely compromise on an important issue, the Republicans refused to even consider it, and Obama more or less said, "Fine, you don't care about the country? Fuck all y'all". I could handle seeing that again.
ubiquitous_a 11th-Jul-2011 05:10 am (UTC)
I'm very much for the "Fuck all y'all" concept at this point as well.
mswyrr 11th-Jul-2011 06:03 am (UTC)
When you've appalled David Brooks, you've really won the human shitbag Olympics.
wemblee 12th-Jul-2011 12:01 am (UTC)
LOLOLOL perfect comment is perfect.
erunamiryene 11th-Jul-2011 02:34 pm (UTC)
While I ... kind of agree with this, there are parts that just make me side-eye.

It would seize the opportunity to put the country on a sound fiscal footing. It would seize the opportunity to do these things without putting any real crimp in economic growth.

LAAAAAAAAAAWL, seriously no, fucking LOL, what the fuck planet do you live on, asshole? The "normal" Republican party wasn't some godsend of fiscal responsibility.

If the debt ceiling talks fail, independent voters will see that Democrats were willing to compromise but Republicans were not.

No, they won't. Witness the 2010 congressional elections.

and are willing to stain their nation’s honor

... what fucking honor do we have left?
supermishelle 11th-Jul-2011 05:59 pm (UTC)
I love how the GOP pushed "we're gonna create jobs gaiz" but as soon as they get into office they start trying to push their ideological agenda (sup redefining rape and halting the performance of same sex marriages) and still not a single fucking job has been created. But of course that's just the democrat's fault.

Every single crisis has been caused by the Republicans. We almost had a government shutdown because the Republicans were so hell bent on cutting 100 million from planned parenthood (but approving 800 billion for the war). Now they're threatening to make us default because we dare tax people who actually have money to pay them? Are these fuckers serious? If anything all this political uncertainty, and drama is killing our economy because as long as we keep having the thread of shut downs, default, and hell come people are not going to risk expanding their business. People don't trust our government because the GOP is so busy pulling childish shit like this and completely ignoring the real reason we're in debt, the fact that we're continuing to fund a pointless war with a slow economy.
ishachan 11th-Jul-2011 06:41 pm (UTC)
Obama needs to just start kicking ass and taking names. I say the president should just drag all the naysayers kicking and screaming and give up this whole "let's work together" ideal because obviously, it's getting us no where. I'm not calling for a dictatorship or for people to start going "Heil Mr. President" but there are some people in government who could do with a nice shove in the right direction. Obama should just put some foot to ass.

I really don't understand republicans. They are all about cutting spending and they'd cut every program that's beneficial to the working class yet god forbid anyone suggest taxes for the wealthy and corporate ceo's be raised. God forbid they shell out a few extra dollars or sacrifice a bonus because they'd rather take a vacation on their private jet rather then ensure that there is enough funding for education and healthcare.

I don't understand how republicans are totally against people aborting a fetus yet they won't see to it that pregnant moms can afford their medical bills or ensure that the future children of America are well educated.
amyura 12th-Jul-2011 12:54 am (UTC)
Time for the Dems to grow a set.
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