The GOP's intense frustration over the collapse of its a "decades-long project" to dismantle the welfare state could be immensely damaging:
The G.O.P.’s Existential Crisis, by Paul Krugman, Commentary, NY Times: We
are not having a debt crisis.
It’s important to make this point, because I keep seeing articles about the
“fiscal cliff” that do, in fact, describe it ... as a debt crisis. But it isn’t.
The U.S. government is having no trouble borrowing to cover its deficit. In
fact, its borrowing costs are near historic lows. ...
No, what we’re having is a political crisis, born of the fact that one of our
two great political parties has reached the end of a 30-year road. ... Since the
1970s, the Republican Party has fallen increasingly under the influence of
radical ideologues, whose goal is nothing less than the elimination of the
welfare state... From the beginning, however, these ideologues have had a big
problem:... Americans ... strongly support Social Security, Medicare, and even
Medicaid. So what’s a radical to do?
The answer, for a long time, has involved two strategies. One is “starve the
beast,” the idea of using tax cuts to reduce government revenue, then using the
resulting lack of funds to force cuts in popular social programs. ...
Arguably more important in conservative thinking, however, was the notion that
the G.O.P. could exploit other sources of strength — white resentment,
working-class dislike of social change, tough talk on national security — to
build overwhelming political dominance, at which point the dismantling of the
welfare state could proceed freely. Just eight years ago, Grover Norquist ...
looked forward cheerfully to the days when Democrats would be politically
neutered: “Any farmer will tell you that certain animals run around and are
unpleasant, but when they’ve been fixed, then they are happy and sedate.”
O.K., you see the problem: Democrats didn’t go along with the program... And
look at where we are now in terms of the welfare state: far from killing it,
Republicans now have to watch as Mr. Obama implements the biggest expansion of
social insurance since the creation of Medicare.
So Republicans have suffered more than an election defeat, they’ve seen the
collapse of a decades-long project. ... It’s a dangerous situation. The G.O.P.
is lost and rudderless, bitter and angry, but it still controls the House and,
therefore, retains the ability to do a lot of harm, as it lashes out in the
death throes of the conservative dream.
Our best hope is that business interests will use their influence to limit the
damage. But the odds are that the next few years will be very, very ugly.
Posted by Mark Thoma on Friday, December 14, 2012 at 12:33 AM in Economics, Politics |