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Tuesday, October 30, 2007

"Economic Right-Wingery"

Jonathan Chait looks at Rudy Giuliani's economic policies and his ideas about freedom:

Economaniac, by Jonathan Chait, The New Republic: ...Compared to other Republican presidential contenders, Giuliani identifies himself as a "supply-sider" ... more aggressively and has mopped up more financial support from oil, gas, and other bastions of the financial right. But economic right-wingery has conquered the GOP so thoroughly that there's not much Giuliani can do to stand out, platform-wise. What truly sets him apart is the apparent depth of his convictions, and the extent to which he is willing to follow the right's philosophical premises through to their grim conclusion.

Consider Giuliani's position on health care reform. ... Like many Republicans, Giuliani's proposed health care reform is to provide a tax deduction for individual health care. Of course, the value of a tax deduction is proportionate to your income... If you don't earn enough to owe income taxes, or if you have a pre-existing condition and can't afford coverage, a tax deduction would probably be worthless. Giuliani's tax deduction remedy would therefore do virtually nothing to cover the uninsured. ...

Giuliani ... is not indifferent to the plight of the uninsured. He actually seems to revel in it:

I don't like mandating health care ... because it erodes what makes health care work in this country--the free market, the profit motive. A mandate takes choice... We've got to let people make choices. We've got to let them take the risk--do they want to be covered? Do they want health insurance? Because, ultimately, if they don't, well, then, they may not be taken care of.

...Of course, this analysis is insane, unless you think most of the uninsured lack coverage because they'd rather splurge at Best Buy than spend money on health insurance. Alas, this appears to be exactly what Giuliani believes. "[The uninsured] may be buying a television, ... they may be buying a cell phone," he said at last week's debate. ...

Giuliani's extreme ... economic right-wingery seems to flow from a deep-seated punitive impulse, which he has transferred from the shiftless New York City underclass to vast swaths of the population. Giuliani has echoed the language of economic libertarianism with more frankness, and less pretense of compassion, than any recent Republican presidential candidate. ...

Giuliani, of course, is careful not to antagonize social conservatives. But his campaign is in fact an attempt to define social conservatism out of the Republican platform. While most Republicans define their party's values by invoking three parts--small government, strong military, social conservatism-- Giuliani only mentions the first two. A recent editorial in the pro-Giuliani New York Sun proposed a list of GOP values. Item one was a belief that tax cuts make revenues rise. Social issues did not make the list at all. Last winter, Giuliani told a crowd at the Hoover Institution that the GOP must redefine itself around economic issues--health care, school choice, taxes--as the "Party of Freedom."

Of course, Giuliani's vision of "freedom" is not necessarily about liberating the human spirit. "[F]reedom is not a concept in which people can do anything they want, be anything they can be," he once explained as mayor. "Freedom is about authority." ...

You can't be all you can be? Dang, I was counting on that. I remember hearing somewhere - I think it was from some freedom protection organization - that you could.

    Posted by on Tuesday, October 30, 2007 at 12:33 AM in Economics, Politics | Permalink  TrackBack (0)  Comments (56)

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