When A Wedge Is Not a Wedge

There some Republican wedges that Democrats can benefit from, such as Social Security and the Schiavo over-reach. However, not every Republican split holds clear promise for Democrats. For example, read the conservative New York Post breaking down Bush's spending excesses:The Republican promise of smaller, less-intrusive government is getting harder and harder to believe.(...)

For the latest, check out a report just released by the libertarian Cato Institute that tells a striking story about just how out-of-control spending has gotten under President Bush.

Cato finds that:

  • Bush has presided over the largest increase in federal spending since Lyndon Johnson.

  • Even excluding defense and homeland security spending, Bush is the biggest-spending president in 30 years.

  • The federal budget grew from 18.5 percent of the Gross Domestic Product on President Bill Clinton's last day in office to 20.3 percent at the end of Bush's first term.

  • Add to that Bush's massive Medicare prescription-drug benefit, expected to cost $720 billion-plus over the next 10 years. (The money for that new entitlement, the first created by a president in a generation, will start flowing this year.)
Bush may have cut taxes, but that's not the same thing as shrinking government. It certainly is true that cutting taxes is not the same thing as shrinking government. At the same time, it is important for many Democrats to remember that balancing the budget is not the same thing as making the government smaller. While it is pretty clear that libertarians such as Cato are upset with Republicans because even the rhetorical support for small government has died in the Bush administration, I think many on our side seem to make a mistake of believing that we can appeal to economic libertarians with a promise of fiscal responsibility. It isn't exactly a secret that expanding the role of the federal government in our economy is part of both the New and the Progressive Democratic message. I somehow doubt that libertarians will start to vote Democratic because while our support for universal health care cuts at every fiber of their being, they like the idea that we will balance the budget when we pass it into law.

I don't know, maybe I'm wrong. Is there room here for Democrats to peel support away from Republicans? I don't see it, but if you do, let me know.

Tags: Ideology (all tags)



screw the libertarians.
The idea that 'small government' is a good in and of itself is a stake through the heart of the progressive movement. We need government to bring justice to those on the short end of the capitalist stick. That's it. There's no way to bring people out of poverty and oppression without aggressive government-led redistribution. If we win the libertarian vote, we will lose whatever reason there is to be in the democratic party.

I do see a silver-lining, but not with the libertarian camp. Once Bush destroys the small government rift in the Republican party, we can start debating different types of 'big government.' Someday, America's terrorism paranoia will fade. Not today or by 2008 probably, but sometime (2012 with Obama riding in on the wave?). When that happens, we can cut the 'imperial misadeventure' budget, and give it people that need it. They will then vote Democratic, because they like the redistributing they receive. We form the progressive coalition, people who need help and people who are decent enough to give it.

by srolle 2005-05-08 08:59PM | 0 recs
Re: screw the libertarians.
The big government/small government debate doesn't matter.  

It is about good government.  Doing things that work.  Programs that involve the community as partners Money that is well-spent, not just thrown away.  Efficiency in government.  Fiscal responsibility

And we have done it.  We just need to do it again.

by v2aggie2 2005-05-09 08:46PM | 0 recs
Re: screw the libertarians.
It's a good thing (for Democrats, anyway) that most Democrats don't share your sentiment.  Adopt a communist platform, and you will soon find your party as popular as the Communist Party USA.
by jerseycorn 2005-05-10 02:40PM | 0 recs
"Half the impact" still a good impact
I don't think we should focus on the transition

  libertarian GOP voter  --->  libertarian Dem voter

but rather, on

  libertarian GOP voter  --->  libertarian NON-voter

This second transition has "half the impact", in terms of GOP-to-Dem vote ratio --- but it's still a good impact.

Libertarins may simply not vote, or actually go out and vote for the Libertarian candidate.

Remember, if one is contemplating a vote switcher --- chances are you should look at the sub-transition to non-voter first.  Very few people actually switch party in one step.  

by Winger 2005-05-08 09:50PM | 0 recs
Long-term, the libs are a much bigger threat to the republicans than the greens are to the dems.  This issue should be forced, over and over.  Make it clear that the republicans are an anti-libertarian party.

This also has the side effect of making the dems more paleatable to libertarian-leaning voters.  When the choice is between two groups, both of which are going to spend and expand government, your libertarian-minded person will support the one that is more likely to actually pay for it, because I think everyone is opposed to simply sending bons (and thus dollars) to the chinese government.  Thus, we may pick up a few votes from strategic voters who don't necessarily support the dems, but LOATHE the republicans, who expand government, and don't even spend the cash efficiently or responsibly.

by Valatan 2005-05-08 09:58PM | 0 recs
The GOP wants a police state..
in which individuals or families needs are next to ignored by the government. Right now, they pay a LOT of attention to corporations because of the idiocy of campaign financing hell, but when they succeed in making the US a one party state, the party for corporations will probably end.. unless you are part of their machine..

Of course, this won't be happening in a vaccumn.. the name of the game is stripping natural resources, homeowner equity, tax money that could otherwise have gone to education (building a future, remember that?) and infrastructure.. The way they see it, whats the point.. better get it now while they can.. (the money, that is, while we still have some)


Under their long-term plans, we all lose.. except for them..

The only growth industries are the military related industries.. and prisons and prison labor.. (hey, at least they get to eat..)

:( :(

Is anybody surprised?

by ultraworld 2005-05-09 01:37AM | 0 recs
It's possible, but...
Libertarians have always been split into three camps.  The libertarian true believers will vote for the Libertarian Party regardless.  They won't be won to our side unless we convince them that their no-government ideology itself is mistaken.

The "pragmatic" libertarians are the ones who can be won on the fiscal responsibility issue.  Andrew Sullivan is an example, and he endorsed Kerry in 2004.  Mostly they vote Republican on the mistaken belief that while both parties are big spenders the Repubs are more "fiscally responsible."  Show them that this isn't the case and they will start voting Democratic.  Yes, we're big spenders, so are the Repubs, but which party has proven over and over that they will run up the federal deficit when in power?  It's not us.

There is a third group of libertarians for whom various other issues (anti-war, drug legalization, guns, the Patriot Act) trump economic issues.  Lew Rockwell and L. Neil Smith are examples.  I'd put Paul Craig Roberts in this group too; like Andrew Sullivan, he endorsed Kerry in 2004.  They're a trickier bunch in that fiscal responsibility arguments will carry little weight with them.  Come out strongly against the Iraq war, the war on drugs, and the Patriot Act and drop gun control from the national agenda and they may vote Democratic.

What I don't see happening is these people becoming Democrats (as opposed to sometimes voting Democratic based on fiscal responsibility or lesser-of-two-evils rationales.)  As another commenter already said, there is a lot in the libertarian agenda that is at odds with the Democratic Party and will always remain at odds.  At best I could see a sort of unspoken mutual agreement: "vote Democratic and we'll balance the budget, pay down the federal debt, bring the troops home, and protect civil liberties, so long as you let us keep our environmental regulations, raise the minimum wage, and pass national health care."  The libertarian true believers will never got for it, but the more pragmatic ones might very well.

by ACSR 2005-05-08 09:54PM | 0 recs
You forgot the biggest group
If those three groups were the only "libertarians" (small l) out there, we would be in very good shape.  (I happen to be very close to the third of your list, but I also support non-libertarian points of view such as socialized medicine and a general safety net.)

The biggest group (in real life) are what I call the "gimmie-my-tax-cut" libertarians.  They don't actually care about small government, or legalizing drugs, or whatever.  They just hate paying taxes.  This is by far the biggest group on the fiscally conservative side, and Bush knows it.

by Geotpf 2005-05-09 01:26AM | 0 recs
Re: You forgot the biggest group
That would actually be supply siders masquerading as libertarians. They are also known as free market utopians and crackpots. Lawrence Kudlow is their Grand Heresiarch.
by Gary Boatwright 2005-05-09 05:59AM | 0 recs
Re: You forgot the biggest group
Wouldn't you put "gimme me my tax break" libertarians in the supply siders category.  The Laffer Curve really is just trickle down economics.  
by Eric11 2005-05-09 08:09AM | 0 recs
Re: You forgot the biggest group
I'm not even sure they are property classified as libertarians. I think they may be described as opportunist libertarians, who really don't have any philosophy.

There is a fine line between quasi-legitimate property rights libertarians and supply side free market utopians who capitalize on libertarian theory for their own benefit.

For what it's worth, I don't think there is any such thing as a principled libertarian who does not agree with the ACLU at least 75% of the time. The whole property rights libertarian sect is pretty lame. We have to address them because of the think tanks that make their faux-libertarian case, but any the right wing libertarians at Anti-war.com are genuine libertarians and so is the ACLU.

The "pure libertarians" at Antiwar.com will share some of the Ludwig Von Mises economic theory, but the faux-libertarians at Tech-Central do not have any civil libertarian impulses at all. As usual the RWNM confuses standard political labels, by standing them on their head.

by Gary Boatwright 2005-05-09 10:16AM | 0 recs
Re: You forgot the biggest group
The difference between Antiwar.com and Tech Central Station is a good example of how wide the divide is among so called libertarians.  They both call themselves libertarian but take a lot of positions 180 degrees apart from each other.  Tech Central's pro-war, pro-globalization, anti-environmentalist, technology-always-good-even-if-it-threatens-privacy line is almost the polar opposite of Antiwar.com.  Antiwar.com has a lot of the spirit of the old 1970s libertarians back when Murray Rothbard was their leading light, libertarian cooperation with the new left was still the norm, and the Vietnam War and Watergate were still fresh in peoples minds; Tech Central seems to be coming from the Virginia Postrel school of thought, which can probably be traced back to Ayn Rand.
by ACSR 2005-05-09 11:16AM | 0 recs
Right on
Ayn Rand is more of an individualist anarchist than a libertarian. Legitimate libertarian thought is pragmatic. Faux libertarians who want to privatize our national roads are not being pragmatic.

Antiwar.com is the real thing. Lew Rockwell is the real thing.

Tech-Central geeks are Lawrence Kudlow faux libertarian supply side market utopians. They are also univerally idiots. Remember James Glassman's book Dow 36,000? He and Larry Elder are both morons. Lawrence Kudlow is a moron. Our entire national economic policy is being controlled by morons.

The polestar test in the Bush administration is "anything that makes Lawrence Kudlow giddy and chortle becomes national economic policy."

by Gary Boatwright 2005-05-09 11:59AM | 0 recs
Ayn Rand is an individualist anarchist??
like benjamin tucker? herbert spencer? lysander spoonder?!?

no way! i think Ayn Randian Objectivists are more properly called "minarchists"; just enough government to protect "dead rent".

by colorless green ideas 2005-05-09 06:12PM | 0 recs
Re: You forgot the biggest group
They are the biggest group by far!  I have numerous friends are very liberal when it comes to social causes but vote Republican because of the tax issue.  Are they against the gay witch-hunt?  Yes.  Do they really care at the end of the day?  No.  

The problem for Dems is that tearing these people away from the Republican Party will be difficult because, let's face it, Bush has given them their tax breaks.  The only way to gather a few votes from just a few of them (that is all that is needed, just a few) is to talk economics. Mention how poorly the stock market has performed, how the continued deficits are detrimental to the long-term economy, etc.  

It is a tough nut to crack.  However, when recessesions hit, these guys abandon the Party come election time.  Playing into these fears can work.  

by Eric11 2005-05-09 08:07AM | 0 recs
Re: You forgot the biggest group
Well I don't think of the "gimme my tax cut" crowd as being libertarians.  Some of them go beyond just tax cuts into supply side economics, which puts them firmly in the Reagan/Gingrich/Kemp Republican camp; others are just greedheads who care about nothing but a tax cut.  You're right about them being a larger group than any of the three I mentioned, and they are one of the Republicans' core target markets.

Can some of them be peeled away?  Except for the true believers who want no taxes at all, everyone else agrees that there will be taxes.  Except for the true believers who adhere to supply side voodoo economics, the others are just interested in a tax cut.  It's just like the big government thing: both parties will be big spenders and that's a given, it's a question of how that spending is prioritized and which party runs up the federal debt.  With taxes it's the same:  our tax cuts (tax cuts for working families, while raising taxes on the rich), or their tax cuts (tax cuts for the rich while raising taxes on working families in the form of regressive tax schemes)?  We could actually win some of the tax cut crowd by proposing tax cuts which are compatible with progressive principles, such as working to cut or abolish sales taxes and other regressive taxes.  Another idea I like is to replace regressive taxes with a graduated asset tax on the wealthy.

by ACSR 2005-05-09 08:58AM | 0 recs
Well, maybe they are not actually...
...libertarians, but for every libertarian who doesn't think like this, there are four or six or nine gimmie-my-tax-cut freaks.  That is, numerically, libertarians who aren't simply tax haters are a very small portion of the electorate, almost so small as to not worth mentioning.
by Geotpf 2005-05-09 09:12AM | 0 recs
Re: Well, maybe they are not actually...
I'd say that people who are "gimmie-my-tax-cut freaks" are just using the term libertarian because they think it sounds cool or hip.  It's like someone who proclaims themselves as an anarchist just because they don't like censorship.  If someone was a hard core social conservative, pro-war imperialist, but loved free health care, are they a liberal?

I think one of the fundamental principles of libertarianism is TANSTAAFL.  There Ain't No Such Thing As A Free Lunch.  If the person doesn't understand that tax cuts that cause deficits are only temporary and will force tax increases down the line, they are a rather dull voter and I'm not sure we could ever win them over.

by LoganFerree 2005-05-09 09:27AM | 0 recs
Genuine conservatives or libertarians
Both groups would favor pay as you go. No new programs without tax hikes to pay for them. No tax cuts without program cuts to pay for them.

Libertarians want smaller, less intrusive government, but they definitely do not favor bigger, more intrusive government paid for with budget deficits.

Libertarians hate No Child Left Behind.  

Libertarians love the filibuster because it makes it more difficult to pass government programs.

Unlike Tech Central, which hates Spitzer, pragmatic libertarians favor realistic SEC regulations that keep the free market free from corporate corruption. Corporate and political corruption are not libertarian ideals. They didn't used to be conservative values.

Libertarians hate Gonzalez and the Patriot Act.

I'm not sure what libertarians would think about illegal immigration. I'll have to look into that one. The bottom line is that Goldwater was the last principled libertarian that was remotely electable. I voted for Clark. What year was that?

Libertarians need a large dash of pragmatism to be a serious political influence, instead of fodder for political book reviewers.

by Gary Boatwright 2005-05-09 12:07PM | 0 recs
Re: Genuine conservatives or libertarians
Clark was 1980 and campaigned as a "low tax liberal."  I think that's an indication that not every libertarian is closer to the GOP than the Democratic Party.
by LoganFerree 2005-05-09 01:04PM | 0 recs
This is a good issue to separate the true libertarians from the profiteers who spout faux-libertarian rhetoric.  A true libertarian does not understand the concept of an invisible line (democrats and republicans call them "borders") that is used to determine whether a human being deserves to have human rights (i.e. if you live on this side of the invisible line you deserve rights, if you live on the other side, you do not.)  If you spot an anti-immigration conservative using libertarian rhetoric, you can be sure it is faux.
It is interesting to note that these are the same folks who used to (literally) yell at me that if I didn't like our government, then I should just get the f*** out.  But somehow the same doesn't go for the foreigner who doesn't like his government.  He can go to hell just as long as he doesn't come here.
It seems that as I've been typing this, I've been snacking on strawberries picked in Oxnard, CA most likely by illegal aliens.  Go figure.
by jerseycorn 2005-05-10 02:28PM | 0 recs
Re: It's possible, but...
Lew Rockwell is a great example of a good libertarian; this is a good post.

The so called libertarian views  espoused by
media entertainment types are often
corporate. Same as the 'liberal' views.
They're often paid off.

Case in point: I heard someone say that
the 'libertarian' thing to do would be
for our gov. in Ga. here to veto a bill
that bans smoking in public places.

Now there's these talking heads that
are going on and on about how we need
to have free enterprise decide, bla bla bla.

But whats really happening is that the
big tobacco firms have written up
a back room deal through an SPE.

They want to make corporations pay for the right
to sell their product.

Lord, it was like our gov. was
up for the highest bidder.

Now, the conference is at 2 pm but
I got word through an accounting
friend of mine that the deal payments
are already in escrow so he's going
to veto the bill.

Corporations trump indidividual freedom.
When it comes to war, they go - and they
send you to die for it.

Rockwell is anti-war. Its the same game:
You can win over the ones who are opposed to
government lining up haliburtons pockets instead
of ours. Let us make our own cash.

And privacy would be nice too.
But thats another story.,

Bowers should have a great Version of this
little game with the Verizon wireless bid.

There's this laughable assertion by Verizon,
who paid just big big bucks to lobby to
stop philadelphia from turning on a wireless
network, because they quote "wouldn't want to
see cities getting into the game of service
providership" close quote.

Like, we can't figure out it would be cheaper
for us to do it by ourselves?

And they won. Thats the funny part. Penn.
decided that a big corporation gets the
contract even tho. the forces that could've
rolled out a cool wireless network would've
already done so by now.

So the avg. consumer sits and waits and wonders
why everything is so boring...

Thus another libertarian is born.

by turnerbroadcasting 2005-05-09 07:28AM | 0 recs
Libertarians are not our only target
Fiscal responsibility appeals to a large group of Independents. If Dems would raise the issue forcefully and frequently, it would demoralize a large part of the Republican base and appeal to Independents who also believe in fiscal responsibility.

Winger accurately points to the distinct potential for economic libertarians to either become non-voters or vote for a third party ticket.

ACSR points out the branches of libertarians that I refer to as property rights libertarian wackos like Larry Elder, and Steve Glassman at Tech Central.

There are also the civil libertarians like the ACLU who are actually lefties, with some right wing overlap from the NRA types.

Then there are the pure libertarians like Justin Raimondo and Craig Roberts.

Libertarians exist as a distinct group because there is a powerful strain of libertarian belief deeply imbedded in the American psyche. There are large numbers of Independents who will be attracted by the party of fiscal responsibility and civil libertarian issues like opposition to Patriot Act expansion/extension as well as opposition to the Pharmacist Right to Discriminate Act.

It's not each individual issue as much as how it is woven into an overarching theme of Freedom from governmental tyranny.

by Gary Boatwright 2005-05-08 10:29PM | 0 recs
Re: Libertarians are not our only target
Notice Tech Central's anti-Spitzer article, Eliot Spitzer at it again. The free market utopians actually believe corporations have a Constitutional right to swindle. I used to listen to Larry Elder on the way home from work and he defended Ken Lay and Enron way after everyone knew the were both guilty as sin. He may still defend Enron.

There is a huge opening for a good government, anti-corruption reform Democrat platform like Spitzer's.

by Gary Boatwright 2005-05-08 10:58PM | 0 recs
He's right..
Look up the controversy over 'protected commercial speech'
by ultraworld 2005-05-09 01:42AM | 0 recs
Re: Libertarians are not our only target
Not all libertarians believe that corporations had a constitutional right to swindle.  Some libertarians realize that corporations are created by governments, they are not a natural institution like  a person is.
by LoganFerree 2005-05-09 07:15AM | 0 recs
You may be right
I am just not aware of any libertarian sect that expresses that view. As far as I can tell, the Right Wing Think Tanks have redefined libertarian thought to include more Constitutional protection for economic rights of corporations than a natural person has under the Bill of Rights.
by Gary Boatwright 2005-05-09 10:22AM | 0 recs
I think the goal should be...
...to convince libertarians that our ideal government is a benevolent entity that only steps in when necessary to help those in need, while the Republicans' ideal government is a totalitarian state that controls everything you think and do.

If we can do that, I think they'll see that our version is more libertarian than the Republicans'.

by craverguy 2005-05-08 10:35PM | 0 recs
Re: I think the goal should be...
Not bad...that could work

I think that a committment to good government that works well (forget big and small) will help us with libertarians as well.  

by v2aggie2 2005-05-09 08:49PM | 0 recs
Speaking as a retired fed civil servant, IMHO, what Americans really want is to know that government spends their tax dollars responsibily. Americans will support government spending and programs if they understand their taxdollars are being well-spent. Dems need to stress not only fiscal responsibility, read balanced budgets, but that we are better stewards of federal money. This may seem like a distinction without a difference, but it's not. We need to stress that Dems will treat every penny of federal tax money like it's coming out of own personal pocket - that's stewardship and it can happen regardless of big or small the federal budget is.

Further, Dems should say part of better stewardship is replacing outsourced, for-profit private contractors and consultants with non-partisan civil servants who care about doing what's best for our citizens are not beholden to whichever party is in power.

by phillydem 2005-05-08 10:50PM | 0 recs
If they don't have jobs, dont have an income
they won't be contributing much in the way of taxes..

You guys sometimes seem lost in your own world.

Are you all self-employed?

by ultraworld 2005-05-09 01:40AM | 0 recs
Big Pharma is a target
I didn't get around to a diary, but the O.C. Register had two great articles about prescription drugs and health care costs.

Drug makers to reap tax break's benefit: Amnesty lets firms repatriate $75 billion sheltered using dubious claims that most of their profits come from overseas.

Drug benefit could cost food-stamp aid: Coverage would leave poor seniors more to spend on groceries, Bush officials say.

Add that together with the Angry Bear's Health Care Comparison and you've got a great foundation for Health Care for All.

It's a mistake to look at isolate issues. What's important is how they all weave together into a coherent message of favoring the middle class and working Americans over wealthy corporate elites.

by Gary Boatwright 2005-05-08 11:05PM | 0 recs
The problem is that DLC types can't go there
Digby explains why centrism is a failed strategy, While the DLC slept:

Furthermore, the consensus style of politics that the DLC depends upon to deliver its centrist vision simply is not possible in this political environment. The right has become radical and uncompromising, each of its factions growing more and more demanding. There is no middle in American politics today, as much as we might wish it to be so --- and it's not because of positions on the issues, it's because of the zero sum politics the Republicans are playing. In order to provide some ballast, we simply must have some weight on the liberal side of our arguments or they will carry us all further to the right than even the DLC can live with. That's where Move-on and Michael Moore and the left blogosphere come in.

This is not the kind of politics I would prefer. It would be nice if we could have some civility and comity for awhile; this is exhausting and mostly unproductive. And people in hell want ice-water. It is what it is and if there's one thing we should have learned over the past 15 years it's that being conciliatory with the radical Republicans and allowing them to take us further and further right is a recipe for losing. We've lost it all for the moment and we are barely hanging on to the possibility of getting a piece of it back.

Harry Reid doesn't get it. He's still living in a consensus politics wonderland.

by Gary Boatwright 2005-05-08 11:09PM | 0 recs
So you would prefer
Sen. Reid morph into Michael Moore?

The fact is that Reid does not have total control over the caucus. The bankruptcy and class action bills had enjoyed modest Dem support for years. There's nothing Reid could have done about it. Otherwise, Reid has held the caucus together extremely well. I guess I'm wondering what specific complaints you have against him.

Secondly, I disagree with the notion that there is "no middle in American politics today." There is a middle--they just don't have a lot of candidates who represent their views.

We just need to make more progress among independents. Kerry improved from Gore's margin to win them 49-48. With our base anxious to win back the WH, we should have the advantage if we can nab a few more swing voters.

by eskimo 2005-05-09 01:58AM | 0 recs
False Dichotomy
Let's see Harry Reid and Michael Moore. Are those our only two choices or are you being ridiculous?

My specific complaint against Harry Reid is that he has been completely ineffectual. At the very least, he could have slowed down Bush victories. Name Harry Reid's three top accomplishments this session.

The only way bankruptcy passed was through Reid's control of the caucus. One single Senator could have blocked the bankruptcy restrictions. The only reason it wasn't blocked was because Biden, Feinstein and Harry Reid greased the skids. Harry Reid was not a victim of an uncontrollable caucus. Harry Reid was an active participant in bankruptcy legislation and class action law suit restrictions or they never would have passed so quickly.

Did you read Digby's post? Centrism does not motivate voters in today's political climate. I hope you will excuse me for giving Digby's analysis and opinion greater weight than your shallow, unsubstantiated political platitudes.

DLC motto: Extremism in defense of mediocrity is no vice!

by Gary Boatwright 2005-05-09 06:24AM | 0 recs
Re: False Dichotomy
Not a single Dem has left ranks on Social Security.  That's the big fight and he has held them together.
by davej 2005-05-09 06:38AM | 0 recs
Re: False Dichotomy
That's not a success, that should be a given. Are you sure you couldn't set the bar for defining success any lower? Gimme a break. Harry Reid is a hero for saving Social Security? I certainly hope Harry hasn't shot his entire wad.
by Gary Boatwright 2005-05-09 10:24AM | 0 recs
What we want to do...
...is convince libertarians to vote Libertarian.  That'll peel, what, 5% off of Republican electoral returns, and we'll win a lot of elections.  And when the Republicans start listening to libertarians on civil rights issues to win them back, we'll have a better country.  
by Kimmitt 2005-05-09 12:23AM | 0 recs
This is a key post, probably one of the three best
And the answer is very simple:
expanding the role of government can only
be done with positive effect, if the progressive
expansion of government stands for

  1. Better regulation of industry, stock markets etc.
  2. A social reform that includes in its scope reward
   for personal responsibility
3. A broader and more defined view of healthcare

Take (3) first. Libertarians have absolutely no
problem at all (as in 1, and 2) with government
regulation when it makes a competitive market.
But healthcare is a blind market. The prices
go up, not down. Its an artificial

So government intervention is welcome there
by libertarians if only to re-establish
the standard push and pull. For example,
I'd love to just be able to pay for my
own care. I'm a healthy person. Why not?

But when a bottle of water in the ER
goes for 9.00 you simply can't. So government
regulation here doesn't help if they
simply seek to institutionalize something like

Social reform is key to libertarians. We
as a society have ethical considerations that
we absolutely have to deal with that
include the scope of what life is, how
to handle the question of cloning, etc. etc.
Ray Kurzweil is banking big on this.
We must, as a society be able to deal with
the question of immortality.  Hint: it
isn't going to look like michael jackson.

So there, you have to ask - what would the
reward be for being socially responsible?
There are simple answers but we must be
free to find our own and not have them
beaten into us. That sense of honesty
about who you are, and identity must have
that element in it.

Finally, 1 - clearlly you want a free market.
But the thing that has evolved is that
corporations have lost all sense of ethical
operation.  When Bagdad is a better environment
for cell phone business than America, it
really tells you something. FCC deregulation
in 1996 is a prime example of where regulation
helps the markets. Spitzer is another.

The little guy needs to be able to have
his own weapons, his own tricks. Thats
all you have to do and suddenly you'll
be beaten down at the gate because
AMERICA is fundamentally supposed to
be an intellectually free, religiously free
place that thats the thing that you
can win.

by turnerbroadcasting 2005-05-09 04:12AM | 0 recs
And this is an even better, more succinct post
Perhaps not in my top 3, but here it is nonetheless...  

"What in God's holy name are you blathering about?!"
--Mr. Lebowski

by NCDem 2005-05-09 07:17AM | 0 recs
Re: And this is an even better, more succinct post
It's hard to tell with turnerbroadcasting. He is somewhat of a wigbird that uses that peculiar poetic format affectation and generally seems to be seriously under the influence of opiated Afghani Hash, if not something even more hallucinogenic.
by Gary Boatwright 2005-05-09 10:26AM | 0 recs
Re: And this is an even better, more succinct post
I like how he's been prefacing his recent postings with "this one's really good"... "best post ever" "one of the top three posts" "important post"... (Don't know why I'm putting them in quotes, since they're probably not "direct" quotes... but they're pretty much equivalent...).  And I always read them, and I always find myself bewildered and wondering what he/we/I was talking about.
by NCDem 2005-05-09 10:38AM | 0 recs
Re: And this is an even better, more succinct post
Which is why I suspect kick ass opiated black afghan hash, or brain damage. turnerbroadcasting makes just enough sense not to be hallucinating, but not enough to be sober.
by Gary Boatwright 2005-05-09 12:12PM | 0 recs
Social Security is a winner. The economic model that underlies Intermediate Cost is a black hole that is distorting all rational economic discussion, it is a cement block in the center of the trampoleen. Remove it and everything springs up.

Markets and people have priced Trust Fund Depletion into their models, consciously or not. Medicare's future income stream is directly and explicitly tied to Intermediate Cost. Plug different assumptions in and the outcome becomes less bleak. Not good, but less bleak. Ditto for the General Fund Deficit. The Bush Administration uses better economic numbers in its Budget than they do on Social Security (2.6% for 2005 compared to 2.0%) but not enough better to raise too many eyebrows. You know they are dying to inject a 3.0% plus number in. Well me too. And the Bond market is counting on a need to redeem the Trust Fund by public borrowing, which in turn lowers the price they are willing to pay for current instruments. Sweep that future supply off the table and that current ten year bond starts looking better and better.

We will be having a much different political and economic discussion next year that anyone envisions today. We will be talking responsible spending on cost-effective programs vs tax cuts and Star Wars. We may not bring the Libertarians home, but we can bag the Soccer Moms.

by Bruce Webb 2005-05-09 06:08AM | 0 recs
Re: Absolutely
Democrats also have to filibuster extension of Bush's tax cuts. Whatever it takes, that must be stopped. Dems have to stand up to tax cuts for billionaires and tax cuts for dead billionaires. How in the hell did Democrats become so stupid that tax cuts for dead billionaires became a winning issue for GOPers?

I'm really trying to figure out if Democrats are really that stupid or really just as corrupt as Republicans. I honest to god cannot decide. If they aren't either stupid or corrupt or both, there are all kinds of easy issues that they can totally spank, whip and crucify Bush and the Republican party with. There is not a large voting bloc who sympathize with Steve Forbes' oppressed billionaires.

Why is Schumer even considering compromise on extending Bush's estate tax cuts? Offer to cap it at $1 million and walk away from the table.

by Gary Boatwright 2005-05-09 06:34AM | 0 recs
Re: Absolutely
Totally agree.  This has confused me from the start.  The Republicans mentioned "it hurts the farmers" and we threw up our hands.  It was stupid politically and for this country.  
by Eric11 2005-05-09 08:11AM | 0 recs
Re: Absolutely
I saw an article somewhere last week where Schumer was complaining about trying to negotiate with the GOPers about a $1 million cap or a $3 million cap. Why in the hell is he negotiating?

Put $1 million on the table and walk away. If the GOPers disagree, filibuster. Object to unanimous consent. Demand roll call votes. There are all kinds of ways to slow down the Senate and I am not aware of a single instance in which it has been used this session.

That's why I've started complaining about Harry Reid. I have not seen the slightest evidence that he has even read Roberts Rules of Order, let alone understand the Senate Rules. I am not holding my breath.

by Gary Boatwright 2005-05-09 10:19AM | 0 recs
Libertarian Democrats
The truth is that there are some libertarian Democrats out there, several of which are former Libertarian Party members.  The Democratic Freedom Caucus (http://www.democraticfreedomcaucus.org/) is a group of libertarians and liberals within the Democratic Party and we're trying to reach out to both groups to find common ground between them.  I've been a life long Democrat (which isn't much since I'm only 20) but I'm libertarian in ideology and I've gotten involved in managing their blog. (http://libertariansforamerica.blogs.com/)

I've been trying to convince every Democrat I talk to that if you propose spending cuts along with your health care proposals, or other spending increases, it moves the discussion away from "Oh he's a big government liberal."  Instead you talk about how you're for good government.  

It won't win over someone who's only an economic libertarian, but if they are libertarian in general and already agree with the Democratic Party on foreign affairs and social issues, the message of a Democrat that's willing to at least talk about spending cuts could be enough to tip them from a non-voter or LP voter to a Democratic voter.

A libertarian Democrat would focus on spending cuts in corporate welfare, not social welfare.  They'd call for the abolishment of the Department of Commerce.  Or a radical proposal to shift transportation policy back to the states and abolish the federal gas tax.  They'd take on energy subsidies and Bush's support of clean coal and other dead ends.  They'd go after agricultural subsidies that favor factory farms.  They'd go after the huge amoung of pork in the defense budget.

As a note, we recently finished a scorecard of the Senate based on votes from the 107th and 108th Congress.  (http://libertariansforamerica.blogs.com/index/2005/05/final_senatoria.html)  The blog has the results for the social axis, the economic axis, and the average.  As a whole Democrats did do better on average, and the highest score was Senator Feingold, who many in the DFC look forward to supporting in 2008.  

by LoganFerree 2005-05-09 07:11AM | 0 recs
Does Size or Cost Matter?
Although it's fun to diagram out the various species of libretarians that inhabit the otherwise-empty American interior...

I think the reason you don't "see" it Chris is that much of the increase in federal spending is a product of existing programs being ratcheted up in cost instead of "CREATING NEW ENTITLEMENTS".

In other words, libretarians and the rest of America are conditioned to react a certain way if the government interrputs the status quo with some new regulation. And surprise, depending on who is being regulated often determines public opinion on if the regulation is well received.

But cleverly, most of the increases in domestic spending are for things that American's can't see. The waste in Iraq...you know about it...but you can't actually inspect it with your eyes. The drug benefit...you realize it's going to cost a lot...but the Medicare offices don't have to hire more people or build more buildings to write you a bigger check.

The only dim understanding most people have about this is the federal deficit. The rhetoric that works best here is talking about a bankrupt government. Why else does Bush invoke this about Social Security even though it (as a self-funded program) is relative good shape compared to say the National Highway Transportation Fund?

by risenmessiah 2005-05-09 10:18AM | 0 recs
S.S. is in good shape compared to everything
There is absolutely no government program that is in anywhere near as good a shape as Social Security. There is absolutely no government program that is as efficient and successful as Social Security.

Medicare is nearly as efficient, but underfunded for political reasons. The reason Democrats should be working the There is no crisis theme is that it also lays the groundwork for universal health care, i.e. expanding Medicare.

Medicare for All would be hugely successful if Democrats were not so stupid. Hillary cannot propose it because of the Clinton health care debacle. As brain dead as Democrats are recently, nobody else can propose it either. Medicare For All would be a very easy sell to the American people right now if the Democratic party had anyone willing to make the pitch.

by Gary Boatwright 2005-05-09 10:32AM | 0 recs
Medicare for All
Gary, it's so simple...no one ever says it.

If the Feds cover all catostrophic costs involved, and insurers could compete against a government-owned cooperation to provide the other types of coverage that people often buy...we would everyone covered without even socialized medicine.

But, do I even need to tell you why that won't happen? The larger insurers are punch drunk with the law that let's them sell financials and the more money they can gain from premiums is just more money to throw into their real money-making investments.

Truth is though, the Dems have a decision to make. Do we lay off on the deficit issue to bolster our argument that SSI is a-okay? Or do we conceed a "crisis", but in so doing recommend a complete overhaul of the borrow-and-spend Republican fiscal managment?

by risenmessiah 2005-05-09 11:08AM | 0 recs
Re: Medicare for All
Neither one. We attack Bush's S.S. plan and his deficits at the same time.

Bush is stupid and private accounts for Social Security are stupid. Private accounts make Social Security weaker and budget deficits larger.

For some bizarre reason, Democrats pretend like Bush is making a serious proposal. That's why I keep insisting that I can't tell if Democrats are stupid or just as corrupt as Republicans. None of this is any more complicated than riding a bike.

Bush is stupid and private accounts are stupid. Republicans cannot be trusted with Social Security, budget deficits or the Constitution.

There are dozens of ways tot say the same thing.

by Gary Boatwright 2005-05-09 12:17PM | 0 recs
Riding Your Bike
I hear you, Gary...but I think this highlights the problem the Dems have going into 2008.

In regard to SSI: I concur its all horse-shit. The big rowhouses paid hundreds of thousands to Bush-Cheney to get the private accounts idea. Bush merely wants to abolish the payroll tax because it keeps the current federal bureaucracy on life support while the GOP fiddles as Rome burns. Bush will find Americans receptive to repealing all the other forms of federal taxes without a whimper...the payroll tax is the only one where most people demand some quid pro quo.

But here's the thing: we're going bankrupt no matter what strategy the Democrats or Republicans follow. It's going to be hard to convince the "red staters" to hike taxes until the economy really goes south at the end of the decade. As a result, the Dems have a conundrum because while SSI isn't a crisis...the General Fund is, Medicare and Medicaid are, not to mention the stuff most people never discuss even on this board like the Airports Improvement Trust Fund and the Nat'l Highway Transportation Fund. We have to decide, is the country going to hell in the handbasket or not?

by risenmessiah 2005-05-09 06:44PM | 0 recs
Here's what Dwight D. Eisenhower said.
"Should any political party attempt to abolish social security, unemployment insurance, and eliminate labor laws and farm programs, you sould not hear of that party again in our political history. There is a tiny splinter group, of course, that believes that you can do these things. Among them are a few Texas oil millionaires, and an occasional politician or businessman from other areas.  Their number is negligible and they are stupid."

--President Dwight D. Eisenhower,  1952

by William Domingo 2005-05-09 04:11PM | 0 recs
expanding the role of the federal government ?
"It isn't exactly a secret that expanding the role of the federal government in our economy is part of both the New and the Progressive Democratic message"

not necessarily. why not keep it neutral, and just cut the pork?

by colorless green ideas 2005-05-09 06:20PM | 0 recs
Good Government
Obviously, we will not be in lock step with Libertarians.

However, neither are the Republicans.

One of the hallmarks of the Clinton era was the ability to balance the budget, shrink the size of government, and yet still implemented programs that represented Democratic values.  He was able to avoid drastic cuts to social and economic programs.  This was the essence of the fight against Gingrich and company in 1995 that led to the government shutdown.

The basic philosophy of the Clinton Administration was that it is not about big government or small government, but GOOD government.  It is not about the QUANTITY of money that is spent, but the QUALITY.  Programs that lead to empowerment and/or community involvement can be much more effecitve over the long term than just throwing money blindly at a problem..

Look, we can do more than just talk about fiscal responsibility and smaller, more efficient government.  We have ACCOMPLISHED THESE GOALS.
This will allow us to appeal to economic libertarians.

Obviously, we believe in the power of government.  But we don't believe in an inefficient government.  This is where we can work with economic libertarians.

by v2aggie2 2005-05-09 08:39PM | 0 recs
Re: Good Government
Why does no one challenge this Reagan canard of "big government IS the problem" with the two-pronged attack:

  1. If big government is the problem, look how big it keeps getting under Republican control.  Clearly Republicans don't believe in small government, as far as civil liberties and spending are concerned.
  2. With apologies to Einstein, Democrats' mantra needs to become "Government should be as small as possible, and NO SMALLER."
by AntiCliche 2005-05-10 07:21AM | 0 recs
"National security" conservatives
I'd say this wedge should work pretty on moderate "national security" conservatives who are not too worked up by "moral" issues. Many went to Bush over serious misgivings because of the aura of manly decisiveness and business-like efficiency projected by Bush and the Repugs.

Along with the war in Iraq, the spending wedge could help the Democrats to paint the Repugs as wasteful and incompetent (which they are) on both the security and the domestic fronts and strip away that aura (and that darn smirk). Once this illusion is gone, there's very little left for the Repugs to hide behind.

Also, most moderate conservatives hate to see their tax money being pissed away even more then paying their taxes in the first place. The debate for them is small gov vs. big gov, not wasteful gov vs. well-run gov.

by Fifi 2005-05-10 01:40AM | 0 recs


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