February 04, 2008

Mehlman hopes for a miracle

The WaPo has a great article up about the Republicans casting about for a message that will unify them. Mehlman has the best quote:

Former Republican Party chairman Ken Mehlman said the party's past successes came when candidates found ways to apply a "core set of principles" to the changing problems of a new generation. "Ronald Reagan and others thought about things like . . . how to apply conservative principles to solve gas lines, Soviet advancement, stagflation," Mehlman said in an interview Wednesday.

He expressed confidence that the wide-open Republican primary is prompting discussion about how conservative ideas can be adapted to solve access to health care, dependence on foreign oil and terrorism concerns. But he acknowledged that, for now, all the thinking appears to be tactical.

"The candidates in both parties have to be concerned about making sure they have a message and a rationale that is broad-based," he said. "The effect of the political process, I hope, will be to encourage that kind of thinking."

See, here's the problem and Krugman NAILS it in his criticism of Obama... Reaganomics were a FAILURE. The only thing keeping it from being worse was a Democratic Congress through most of his term. Bush hasn't had that which is why so many things have gone south, so fast.

But why would a self-proclaimed progressive say anything that lends credibility to this rewriting of history — particularly right now, when Reaganomics has just failed all over again?

Like Ronald Reagan, President Bush began his term in office with big tax cuts for the rich and promises that the benefits would trickle down to the middle class. Like Reagan, he also began his term with an economic slump, then claimed that the recovery from that slump proved the success of his policies.

And like Reaganomics — but more quickly — Bushonomics has ended in grief. The public mood today is as grim as it was in 1992. Wages are lagging behind inflation. Employment growth in the Bush years has been pathetic compared with job creation in the Clinton era. Even if we don’t have a formal recession — and the odds now are that we will — the optimism of the 1990s has evaporated.

This is, in short, a time when progressives ought to be driving home the idea that the right’s ideas don’t work, and never have.

Go ahead, Ken. Get your candidate to talk like Reagan. It'll be fun to see 400 Democrats in Congress... and one in the White House.

Posted by mcblogger at February 4, 2008 02:57 PM

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Even though I support HRC over Obama, I think he's right on Reagan. I'm not saying that Reaganomics is an effective general economic doctrine, but rather that the core components (tax cuts and deregulation) of Reagan's economic policies were right for the time. That was largely because of the too-high marginal tax rates of the period (70% in the highest bracket). With taxes at astronomic levels, the Laffer curve has some validity. With taxes at reasonable levels (like today), it does not. It is the Republicans' inability to see Reaganomics as merely an effective policy proscription for one specific context in time (much like the Keynesians with the Great Depression) that leads them to try to replicate it constantly, with disastrous results (including the later Reagan/Bush years of the late 1980s).

Posted by: Kedron Touvell [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 4, 2008 05:10 PM

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