He’s Probably Only Writing That Because He’s Ashamed

Ross Douthat writes that Jon Chait is wrong to claim that the GOP is motivated by the desire to redistribute income upward.  Arguing “that the Right’s goal has been to take money from the poor and give it to the rich,” Ross writes, “is the equivalent of my arguing that the Left’s goal is to steal money from the rich in order to punish them for their success. That is, it’s an ideological rather than a factual statement.”

Well, that’s fine as far as it goes, and it’s always worth bearing in mind.

But the presumption that a party is making an argument in good faith is a rebuttable one, unless you believe that all political arguments are made in good faith.

Look no further than the Southern Strategy to see that this is not the case.  The GOP of the 1990s sought to pass a balanced budget amendment, fretted about the expanded power of the executive, pined for a more humble foreign policy, and claimed to support states’ rights.  Their abandoning of every principle they once asserted has cost them the support of very few prominent GOP politicians: Bob Barr, Pat Buchanan and … I think that’s it.

And as Chait explained:

the GOP agenda is primarily an exercise in the upward redistribution of wealth. This agenda usually conforms to the tenets of small government ideology – government tends to tax more from the rich and spend more on the non-rich – but when the two diverge, Republicans almost invariably side with the rich over small government principles. Thus the farm bill, the Medicare bill (which was written as if to maximize profits for the health care industry), various trade bills, tougher IRS audits of the poor, student loans (where Republicans support far more costly private lending) – the list goes on and on.

Douthat doesn’t engage this point, instead merely stating the high-school debater’s argument that questioning motives can be done by both sides.

I don’t doubt that Douthat, were he emperor of the US, would implement a more consistent set of policies.  But on this planet at this time, support for the GOP means support for ideologically contradictory policies that redistribute wealth upward.

He is entitled to believe that the Democrats are worse, but as to what motivates the GOP, I’m just going to have to believe my lying eyes.


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