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Small-government Republicans getting fed up

Posted by Richard on September 29, 2005

The bags of money that Bush is throwing at Katrina relief and the overreaching of the Gulf Coast congresscritters appear to have been the last straw for an increasing number of Republicans. The complaining is getting louder and more widespread. Glenn Reynolds pointed out a rant by Republican columnist Frank Cagle predicting disaster for the GOP if they don’t mend their fiscal ways. Cagle made some good points and one bad one:

Bush may still be popular with the branch of the Republican Party that only cares about abortion, stem-cell research and displaying the Ten Commandments, but the fiscal-conservative small-government don’t-tread-on-me wing of the party has had enough.

In 2006, all Republican members of the U.S. House of Representatives will be up for reelection. They ought to be turned out in droves. Their conduct for the past six years has betrayed every promise they ever made about smaller, less-intrusive government and fiscal responsibility. They passed tax cuts, which in the old days meant less revenue, thus less government. But then they have passed one pork-laden bill after another. They have created new entitlement programs, and they have spent the Treasury dry.

I agree totally with almost all of that. But Cagle gets one thing completely wrong, and in doing so furthers the agenda of the big-government Democrats: tax rate cuts have not "meant less revenue" in the past and they don’t now. Bush cut tax rates in 2003 — and, just like after the Reagan and Kennedy tax rate cuts, people’s behavior changed when the incentives changed, the economy grew faster as a result, and tax revenues increased.

Until we began shoring up levees with bags of legal tender, the deficit was shrinking rapidly due to unanticipated large increases in tax revenues — well, unanticipated by the Congressional Budget Office and all the tax cut critics because they insist on "scoring" tax cuts using static analysis. Static analysis assumes that people don’t behave any differently whether their marginal tax rates are high or low. That is to say, it’s utter nonsense.

[It’s possible, of course, to cut tax rates a lot and have tax revenues remain the same or decline — in fact, as a libertarian, I consider it desirable. I’m just saying it didn’t happen in this case. And I’m saying that if you predict the effect of tax cuts based on the assumption that tax cuts don’t change people’s behavior, you’re being willfully stupid.]

God knows, there’s plenty to criticize — Congress and President — regarding spending, pork, and fiscal responsibility. Comparing these people to drunken sailors is unfair to the sailors. But don’t blame the tax cuts or lump them in with the highway bill or the Medicaid drug benefit as part of the problem.

Aside from that tax cut nonsense, however, I like what Frank Cagle said, I’m glad to see more Republicans saying this kind of thing, and I hope the Republican congresscritters are paying attention to his warning:

If you Republican House members move quickly, maybe some of the people who traditionally vote Republican will stay with you. Otherwise, there will be no reason to keep any of you around. You see, you weren’t elected just because people like Republicans. You were elected because you are supposed to believe in something.

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2 Responses to “Small-government Republicans getting fed up”

  1. Libercontrarian said

    I hate this kind of BS, too, so don’t take the very next thing I’m going to tell you as an assault on conservatism:

    If you don’t vote for the flaming liberals that have hijacked the Republitard Party, will you be voting for the Dumbocrats? They’re Socialists Communists in liberal clothing! What are your real choices? We are all between a rock and a hard place at this point. I think it’s Claire Wolfe time, myself.

  2. Anonymous said

    Hey, I’m not a conservative. I’m not even a Republican. I’m a long-time Life Member of the Libertarian Party. My vote for Bush in 2004 broke a long streak of Libertarian votes for me, and it was purely about the war. Except on that issue, I’m not at all happy with this administration.

    I was just noting with satisfaction that even some loyal Republicans have had enough on the spending issue — good for them!

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