Wednesday, October 17, 2007

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A question for the fair and balanced reader

Kevin Drum asks an interesting question:

[I]is there any subject among liberals that has the same totemic appeal as tax cutting does to conservatives? As near as I can tell, every single Republican running for president publicly says that cutting taxes always raises revenues even though the idea is as absurd as Ron Paul's gold standard crankiness. Ditto for the Heritage Foundation, AEI, the Wall Street Journal editorial page, etc. etc. Deviate from the party line, as Bruce Bartlett has, and you're quickly excommunicated.

Liberals agree on lots of things, but I just can't think of anything that's enforced quite as ruthlessly as the conservative party line on tax cuts. Any ideas?

OK, fair and balanced readers... have at it.

[Your two cents?--ed. There's an easy and a hard answer. The easy answer is what's enforced ruthlessly right now vs. what's been enforced ruthlessly over the past two decades. I think I have at least one answer to the former question (don't touch Social Security). My only answer for the latter would be abortion rights.

posted by Dan on 10.17.07 at 09:18 PM




Comments:

The organized interest groups that dominate the Democratic Party all have third-rail issues. But their agendas tend to be very specific; Democratic candidates may have to pay lip service to abortion rights, the existing tort law, the Voting Rights Act or aid to Israel, but most of the time they don't actually have to do anything but vote against changing policy in any of these areas.

Would pro-life or pro-tort reform candidates, or candidates who wanted to cut aid to Israel, have a hard and lonely time getting support from the Democratic Party? Yes. The last issue named is probably the third rail with the most voltage running through it right now. Where Kevin Drum is right, though, is that GOP campaign orthodoxy demands that its candidates promise to play offense, not defense -- they must not only promise never to raise taxes, but must also promise to cut them. Reagan's name is often invoked on this orthodoxy's behalf, but the orthodoxy doesn't really conform to the actual tax policies of Reagan's administration. It does conform almost entirely to the tax policies of George W. Bush's administration, and the Republican Party is by this time entirely George W. Bush's.

posted by: Zathras on 10.17.07 at 09:18 PM [permalink]



Name a republican who can cut support to Israel or not toe the line there, as well. Heck, I'm sure Dan would be first in line to start throwing stones at whomever - D or R. Just look at the response to the guy who wrote the book about the Israeli lobby. And the Christian right needs Israel around so it can have its armegedon.

So, I'm not really sure that counts as it afflicts everyone in American politics, not party specific.

I seem to remember there's was an awful lot of nervous Nellies in the SS debate and we've clearly seen Dems in the current day flirting with the idea of privatization. I seem to remember that it was an *achievement* to keep party discipline here and no small feat. So I think it's not even close to taxes as an issue on the right. Step out of line there, and you're a ghost - not just a "rebel".

Abortion rights? Probably close, but there's a lot of play there. Lot of dems who seem to be pro-life but not anti-abortion. Hard to imagine that kind of play with taxes on the right, don't you think?

Existing tort law? True, lot's of lawyers in the party, but as Kevin and Matt both pointed out, there's also a lot of people swaying from that line.

The point of Kevin's question is not to find issues where there's a lot of pressure, but an issue - any issue - where, like taxes with republicans, you can't even get published by your party if you break mildly from the orthodoxy.

All the issues you've brought up there are prominent dems who stray from them - lots in many of the examples - and they still get published, get money and get elected by democrats...

posted by: Hal on 10.17.07 at 09:18 PM [permalink]



Name a republican who can cut support to Israel or not toe the line there, as well. Heck, I'm sure Dan would be first in line to start throwing stones at whomever - D or R. Just look at the response to the guy who wrote the book about the Israeli lobby. And the Christian right needs Israel around so it can have its armegedon.

So, I'm not really sure that counts as it afflicts everyone in American politics, not party specific.

I seem to remember there's was an awful lot of nervous Nellies in the SS debate and we've clearly seen Dems in the current day flirting with the idea of privatization. I seem to remember that it was an *achievement* to keep party discipline here and no small feat. So I think it's not even close to taxes as an issue on the right. Step out of line there, and you're a ghost - not just a "rebel".

Abortion rights? Probably close, but there's a lot of play there. Lot of dems who seem to be pro-life but not anti-abortion. Hard to imagine that kind of play with taxes on the right, don't you think?

Existing tort law? True, lot's of lawyers in the party, but as Kevin and Matt both pointed out, there's also a lot of people swaying from that line.

The point of Kevin's question is not to find issues where there's a lot of pressure, but an issue - any issue - where, like taxes with republicans, you can't even get published by your party if you break mildly from the orthodoxy.

All the issues you've brought up there are prominent dems who stray from them - lots in many of the examples - and they still get published, get money and get elected by democrats...

posted by: Hal on 10.17.07 at 09:18 PM [permalink]



Name a republican who can cut support to Israel or not toe the line there, as well. Heck, I'm sure Dan would be first in line to start throwing stones at whomever - D or R. Just look at the response to the guy who wrote the book about the Israeli lobby. And the Christian right needs Israel around so it can have its armegedon.

So, I'm not really sure that counts as it afflicts everyone in American politics, not party specific.

I seem to remember there's was an awful lot of nervous Nellies in the SS debate and we've clearly seen Dems in the current day flirting with the idea of privatization. I seem to remember that it was an *achievement* to keep party discipline here and no small feat. So I think it's not even close to taxes as an issue on the right. Step out of line there, and you're a ghost - not just a "rebel".

Abortion rights? Probably close, but there's a lot of play there. Lot of dems who seem to be pro-life but not anti-abortion. Hard to imagine that kind of play with taxes on the right, don't you think?

Existing tort law? True, lot's of lawyers in the party, but as Kevin and Matt both pointed out, there's also a lot of people swaying from that line.

The point of Kevin's question is not to find issues where there's a lot of pressure, but an issue - any issue - where, like taxes with republicans, you can't even get published by your party if you break mildly from the orthodoxy.

All the issues you've brought up there are prominent dems who stray from them - lots in many of the examples - and they still get published, get money and get elected by democrats...

posted by: Hal on 10.17.07 at 09:18 PM [permalink]



That raising the minimum wage does not affect unemployment...

posted by: Vermando on 10.17.07 at 09:18 PM [permalink]



On the ideological level, the idea the 'diversity' is in and of itself a Good Thing. On policy, the impossibility of any sort of effective effort at immigration control coupled with the failure to recognize the damage that immigration causes to some of the major liberal constituencies -- namely blacks and organized labor. While there are beginning to be cracks in the immigration enthusiast monolith, the levers of power are still in the hands of the cheap labor loving, both 'liberal' and 'conservative'.

posted by: Mitchell Young on 10.17.07 at 09:18 PM [permalink]



Add some sort of market component (Vouchers, Charter Schools) to Education

posted by: Kostoglotov on 10.17.07 at 09:18 PM [permalink]



School choice, or anything that offends the teacher unions. Any reform of Social Security that does not exclusively consist of tax increases or upper-end benefit limits. Any reform of the United Nations.

posted by: Dan(not Drezner) on 10.17.07 at 09:18 PM [permalink]



Increasingly progressive tax rates do not affect productivity.

posted by: kwo on 10.17.07 at 09:18 PM [permalink]



Racial Preferences/Affirmative Action

School Vouchers (even though strongly supported by the inner city black population that Democrats claim to care so much about).

And I'm noticing a worrying trend on pharmaceutical companies--that defending them is becoming less and less acceptable even as the market harnesses the talents they collect to fix more and more of our problems.

And bonus one for both parties--the drug war.

posted by: Sebastian Holsclaw on 10.17.07 at 09:18 PM [permalink]



There's a difference between what's enforced among "liberals" and what's enforced among "Democrats," right? (I don't think Drum's view even holds - Ramesh Ponnuru doesn't think that tax cuts raise revenues, right?) It seems to me that among liberals abortion rights are pretty much sancrosanct (though Nat Hentoff is an inconvenient counterexample) and affirmative action has to rank pretty highly as well (recall Lieberman's cringing backdown on his earlier, very tentative questions on the subject when he was nominated for VP). But abortion rights has to be the best choice - note that the NYT does not have a single regular columnist opposed to abortion rights, right?

posted by: Michael Simpson on 10.17.07 at 09:18 PM [permalink]



Don't touch SS means you are supporting cutting it in the future so do more Dems than Reps support cutting it? The Dems have certainly discussed various options, but their insistence has been that any action actually solve the problem, one Reps certainly haven't had.

posted by: Lord on 10.17.07 at 09:18 PM [permalink]



Dan, how ruthless can the enforcement on abortion rights be when one of the top two Democrats (Reid, Senate leader) is pro-life?

posted by: Crust on 10.17.07 at 09:18 PM [permalink]



I'm with Vermando -- the minimum wage is the parallel issue for Democrats. It fulfills the same function as tax cuts for Republicans as a can't-miss electoral issue that they own, and it causes otherwise respectable economists to take absurd positions for political reasons.

posted by: mr punch on 10.17.07 at 09:18 PM [permalink]



Yup- school choice.

posted by: Mark Buehner on 10.17.07 at 09:18 PM [permalink]



Dan, how ruthless can the enforcement on abortion rights be when one of the top two Democrats (Reid, Senate leader) is pro-life?

That's easy: he isn't, any more than John "I'm personally against abortion but I think the federal government is required by the constitution to hand them out like candy" Kerry is.

posted by: David Nieporent on 10.17.07 at 09:18 PM [permalink]



It's not minimum wage. You can get away with not wanting to raise it, and no one wants to lower/eliminate it.

It's respect for identity politics, combined with the belief that Inequality Is Bad(tm) and that disparate outcomes=discrimination.

No democrat argues publicly against any of those.

posted by: jb on 10.17.07 at 09:18 PM [permalink]



Face it, the reason you can't name a comparable issue for the Democrats is that they are a more tolerant bunch than the Republicans.

posted by: Anonymous on 10.17.07 at 09:18 PM [permalink]



Gun Control Abortion Global Warming

duh

posted by: the-gunslinger on 10.17.07 at 09:18 PM [permalink]






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