Jasper Smith

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Archive for December 2006

Republican elites and not so elites

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Reihan Salam discusses the rift between GOP elites and their poorer cousins:

as socially conservative Democrats have become Republicans, the party’s rank-and-file has grown less reflexively anti-statist, which helps explain resistance to Social Security private accounts, among other things. And yet the conservative movement remains (for the most part) allergic to statism, whether it is in the form of “compassionate conservatism” or “national-greatness conservatism” or some other ideological innovation. (The section on the Medicare prescription drug benefit is particularly persuasive.)

Among elite conservatives, the majority is socially conservative, but there is a large and vocal minority who are agnostic on the hot-button, “fever swamp” issues. Popular conservatism is held together by the glue of social conservatism and a series of policy positions, on taxes, crime, and national security, that reflect a broadly traditionalist outlook. When Republicans argued that Democrats would raise taxes in the run-up to the election, they focused, somewhat disingenuously, on the increase in the child tax credit. Almost no one believes that Democrats want to cut the child tax credit. As far as I can tell, the consensus among Democrats is that they’d focus any tax increase on high-earners. All the same, it’s easy to understand why President Bush constantly talked about the (supposed) Democratic threat to the child tax credit: it is a tax cut that reflects the values of middle Americans.

Let’s just say I don’t think it would be crazy for Republicans to place more emphasis on policies like increasing the child tax credit in reality as well as in their campaign rhetoric.

Emphasis mine. I generally agree with Reihan’s take on things. But he’s being somewhat self-contradictory here — at least when he later in the same piece goes on to write critically about the “hidden welfare state of tax subsidies” (targeting the affluent). Thing is, the tax code is very complicated as it is. My eyes really glaze over whenever the discussion turns to any type of tax subsidy, er, credit. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Jasper

December 8, 2006 at 10:17 am

Posted in Economics, Policy, Politics