Thursday, August 1, 2013

Go Econo-Populist, Young Man

Up to now the two political parties in the US have broken down as follows, according to Yuval Levin:
The Republican party has been the party of cultural populism and economic elitism, and the Democrats have been the party of cultural elitism and economic populism.
So on this view the Republican party is the party of knuckle-dragging Christians and job-destroying corporatist looters like Mitt Romney.  And the Democrats are the party of secular elitism and little-guy economics.

But now, Levin says, the Democrats have really become a true "court" party, the party of social elitism and economic elitism, looking after the big guys, whether they are social elitists or corporate elitists.  On economic policy we find them
protecting larger players from competition in exchange for their willingness to serve as agents of government power and driving crucial sectors of our economy (finance and health insurance above all, but by no means only those) toward greater consolidation.
That gives the Republicans an opening to economic populism.
This would mean emphasizing conservative paths to higher wages and a lower cost of living for working families (like pro-family tax reform, a more growth-oriented monetary policy, health-care reform that reduces costs through competition and consumer power, energy policy aimed at both spurring growth and lowering utility bills by making the most of our domestic resources, K–12 reform to give families more ways to escape failing schools, higher-ed reforms to restrain tuition inflation, entitlement reform to reduce the burden of debt on the young while retaining the safety net for the poor and the old). It would also mean financial regulation with an eye to competition, rather than consolidation. 
And wouldn't you know, there's a good opportunity to do that where President Obama is proposing to lower corporate income tax rates and close loopholes for big business while leaving in the cold small business that report business income on personal income tax returns.

Really, Republicans have been populist in this way for a decade, but our leaders haven't been listening.  The evergreen Democratic line that the Republican Party is the country-club party has been baloney for a decade at least.

And why not?  As Victor Davis Hanson writes, there are all kinds of ways, from gas prices to student debt to agriculture/food stamps to immigration to monetary policy, in which the rich and the poor conspire to milk the system leaving the middle class to take the hit.

What Republicans need to do is improve on the messaging and tell the American people that Republicans stand for the small businessman that is trying to get a retail store or a contracting business off the ground.  And why not start belaboring on big business which, from big banks to big boys like Warren Buffet, has been notably going Democrat recently.  I don't blame them; they know that in return for political contributions they can get protection as political cronies.  But there is no reason to give them cover.  Republicans should start connecting big business to the Democratic Party and an out-of-touch liberal elite.

And the sooner the better.

1 comment:

  1. On Tuesday, a group of nearly 100 top Republican donors and Bush administration officials sent a letter to Congress with the aim of convincing lawmakers to pass legislation that would legalize immigrants residing in the U.S. illegally, reports the Washington Times.

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