How my G.O.P. destroyed the U.S. Economy

I've always admired David Stockman, a rare Republican who seems to have principles.

My memory - without benefit of Wikipedia, okay? - is that he resigned as Reagan's director of the Office of Management and Budget when it became clear to him that Reagan was only too happy to cut taxes, as Stockman wanted, but would use none of his political capital to restrain spending. I even bought a (used) copy of Stockman's book - that's how impressed I was at the time.

So when I opened my NY Times this morning and found an amazing op-ed piece by Mr Stockman, I read it immediately. (The article may be behind a paywall - I don't know, because I have paid my dues, unlike free-lunch Republicans.)

Stockman believes that there have been "four great deformations of the national economy" since the 1940s, and that "modern Republicans have turned a blind eye to each one." Here's an example:

The second unhappy change in the American economy has been the extraordinary growth of our public debt. In 1970 it was just 40 percent of gross domestic product, or about $425 billion. When it reaches $18 trillion, it will be 40 times greater than in 1970. This debt explosion has resulted not from big spending by the Democrats, but instead the Republican Party’s embrace, about three decades ago, of the insidious doctrine that deficits don’t matter if they result from tax cuts. (my emphasis)

I won't go on here: you should read this riveting article for yourself.

BTW, it's interesting that the subheading, "How my G.O.P. destroyed the U.S. Economy", appears in the print version of the paper but not online, as far as I can tell.


A favorite types of writing. the Republican sees the light!

I am most eager to read this stockman -- i love this theme of a Republican who eventually understands the evil of their ways.

Lee Atwater deathbed confession, admitting that his dirty tricks campaigns were evil.

And Blinded by the Right, autobiography of a young Republican who helped the right smear Clinton and Anita Hill, with lies. Then a transformation and he begs for forgiveness from Anita Hill.

Why do we care? We want all poor people to get health care, good educations, we do we want the light to shine brightly and for people to be transformed. Just like we want all poor people to be able to get jobs, earn a living wage, pay for their cable TV, and eat three squares, we also want Republicans to see the light.

and to admit it publicly.

Forever optimistic. and hopeful.

If we keep working hard on the knocking, canvassing, calling, and registering, then the world will all be transformed.


Not Seeing It

I'm not sure that Mr. Stockman has seen the light. At least not the light you seem to be referring to.

In 1981, traditional Republicans supported tax cuts, matched by spending cuts, to offset the way inflation was pushing many taxpayers into higher brackets and to spur investment. The Reagan administration’s hastily prepared fiscal blueprint, however, was no match for the primordial forces — the welfare state and the warfare state — that drive the federal spending machine.

Soon, the neocons were pushing the military budget skyward. And the Republicans on Capitol Hill who were supposed to cut spending exempted from the knife most of the domestic budget — entitlements, farm subsidies, education, water projects. But in the end it was a new cadre of ideological tax-cutters who killed the Republicans’ fiscal religion.

I may be misunderstanding Mr. Stockman and I certainly don't want to put words in his mouth. But, it seems to me that he doesn't support public healthcare, entitlement programs and other forms of welfare. Or at least, it doesn't seem like he supports these programs during an economic recession.

I don't think he's renouncing his conservative ideals. I think he's just accusing the Republicans of deviating from his understanding of traditional conservative ideals. The gist of his article seems to be that we should both maintain taxes at a reasonable level and cut government spending.

And, on a separate note, I'm not sure I understand how "knocking, canvassing, calling, and registering" will transform the world. Can you explain this idea to me?


The Black Sheep


The Black Sheep

Right diagnosis, wrong remedy

Stockman describes correctly much of the diagnosis for our current economic troubles, and lays out a pretty good timeline for how these things came about.

But his remedy of strict austerity is not what the patient needs right now, unless we want to see unemployment double in the near term. Instead of "vulgar Keynesianism robed in the ideological vestments of the prosperous classes," we need real Keynesian stimulus aimed at our crumbling infrastructure and energy inefficiency.

Weatherstripping windows in homes is nice, but it's not nearly enough. We need big projects, using big ideas. We need things like passenger rail throughout North Carolina, for example, with the kinds of improvements to that infrastructure to make rail travel safe and fast (e.g. eliminating grade crossings!!!). We need solar water heating for domestic water on all public schools and university buildings. We need more mass transit in Charlotte and Raleigh.

Once the jobs picture improves, we can then move toward "austerity" or at least fiscal balance.


The measure of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little. - FDR

I agree with all the responses

Please don't misunderstand me: I admire Stockman primarily for his lack of hypocrisy - he didn't come to his senses late in life like Atwater, &c. - he seems to have had principals that he's stuck with all along.

Of course, I do set my expectations pretty low with Republicans and tend to admire them only to the extent that they stick to their "principals", not so much with the "principals" themselves.

This reminds me of B.J. Lawson, who is running against David Price for Congress in the 4th district. I met with him a couple of times and liked his apparently consistent libertarianism in the realm of civil liberties. Then I discovered - he wasn't particularly forthcoming on this - that he does believe that government can prevent women from having abortions. "Because he's a doctor", you see. So suddenly, gov't can intervene in our lives. My respect for him diminished, I'm sorry to say.

BTW, an economist friend of mine, whom I deeply respect, says:

[Stockman's] view to go to gold is crazy, and is supported only by nutcases: doing so would require our central bank to link the money supply to gold instead of varying it to act against recessions and inflations - after all our Federal Reserve Bank which conducts monetary policy is our first line of defense against these dangers. Castrating that critical function would be disastrous.

So, I admire Stockman without following him. But if we could have a few more Repubicans with principals, however flawed, I think we'd be better off.

Is it okay for me to still admire Eisenhower???

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