Hard to Argue with This

You can hardly pick up a newspaper or magazine, or log onto a website these days without encountering an article that advises the Republicans party on ways to address the party’s current dilemma. Some are well-reasoned and thoughtful, many are nothing more than thinly-disguised apologetics. Commentary magazine has recently published one of the better analyses. Among their prescriptions: an admonition to be intellectually honest.

The article made clear that the author agreed with conservative economic approaches. But as it noted, the likelihood of anyone listening to the GOP on these issues “requires changing an image that the GOP is engaged in class warfare on behalf of the upper class. Republicans could begin by becoming visible and persistent critics of corporate welfare: the vast network of subsidies and tax breaks extended by Democratic and Republican administrations alike to wealthy and well-connected corporations. Such benefits undermine free markets and undercut the public’s confidence in American capitalism. They also increase federal spending. The conservative case against this high-level form of the dole is obvious, and so is the appropriate agenda: cutting off the patent cronyism that infects federal policy toward energy, health care, and the automobile and financial-services industries, resulting in a pernicious and corrupting system of interdependency. “Ending corporate welfare as we know it”: For a pro-market party, this should be a rich vein to mine.”

No kidding. The hypocrisy on this issue–defending corporatism while marginalizing the poor and opposing any effort to help them–has been widely mocked. This preference for corporate welfare has made the general public view all GOP economic prescriptions with suspicion.

Perhaps the most penetrating observation in the article, however, was this one:

Republicans need to express and demonstrate a commitment to the common good, a powerful and deeply conservative concept. There is an impression—exaggerated but not wholly without merit—that the GOP is hyper-individualistic. During the Republican convention, for example, we repeatedly heard about the virtues of individual liberty but almost nothing about the importance of community or social solidarity, and of the obligations and attachments we have to each other. Even Republican figures who espouse relatively moderate policy prescriptions often sound like libertarians run amok.

This may be the area where current Republican rhetoric is most out of sync with the culture. America is experiencing a still-nascent but growing return to balance, to a renewed recognition of the importance of community and the common good. “I’ve got mine” is an unattractive motto for a political party at any time, but it is extremely off-putting to people looking for ways to forge a caring polity.

The article makes several other points worth pondering, not the least of which is that the country desperately needs two mature, responsible political parties. And right now, we don’t have them.


  1. While the 1% were receiving tax breaks and using years-old loopholes to hang onto their multi-millions, IRS targeted my son who was a brick mason by trade and one of the 99% getting by. His story began around 2000 when his vindictive ex-wife stole and destroyed 6 months of his personal and business records. Tax time rolls around and he had not been able to obtain copies of all business records so requested filing an estimated return. This was naturally denied; the following year with all records at hand for that year he was not allowed to file because he had not filed and paid taxes for the previous year. This continued for 8 years through 3 attorneys; they finally agreed on a figure of $152,000 in back taxes, fines and interest plus an IRS lien on his home. My son, on his income, could only afford $300 monthly payments to IRS which of course didn’t cover or stop interest and fines from piling up. He continued paying $300 monthly till being rear-ended on a Florida highway in 2008 resulting in 7 fractured vertibrae and permanent disabiity. He was finally approved for Medicaid; their doctors discovered he had terminal cancer, no treatment options due to his advanced condition. He had no income for 15 months except what I could send from my Social Security and PERF checks; luckily his home was paid for. He received his first Social Security Disability check on a Monday, on Friday he received his cancelation notice from Medicaid because his income was too high. The following week he was contacted by IRS to begin making those monthly payments, now in the sum of $132 which he continued to pay till he was found dead in his home on January 14th of this year. By now the IRS tax lien on his 1,000 square foot home on a small lot with a small in-ground pool is near $900,000. In today’s economy it would be stretching things to believe it might sell for $60,000. He added his brother’s name (my youngest son) to the deed prior to his death; he flew to Florida to take care of what needed to be done and filed the deed with Pasco County Treasurer’s Office as required. Now we wait to learn what happens to that $900,000 tax lien. If you totaled all five of my children’s incomes, plus their spouses and add mine, for years – we would not owe IRS $900,000 in taxes. Do I need to state my views on subsidies, tax breaks and loopholes used by the rich? And my son is only one of thousands of IRS victims. IRS could and should make better use of our tax dollars paying their salaries to get money from those who owe it.

  2. “Republicans could begin by becoming visible and persistent critics of corporate welfare”

    “They also increase federal spending.”

    Those are their too biggest problems. Today’s Republican party is no longer “free market” or even “capitalistic”, they are “pro-market” which can often times be very anti-free market. Their spending sprees are just as embarrassing.

    They actually are supporting the poor with some of their tax policies, such as giving tax breaks to the rich and lowering taxes across the board. They also help by opposing minimum wage increases, which hurt the poor and under educated more than any other group. The Republicans are just terrible at getting that message out in a coherent fashion.

  3. And yet, when I asked you to shine a light on Indianapolis Council Democrat’s intentions to kill off the much needed Avondale Meadows TIF, and use your personal clout to dissuade them from doing so, not a word was written about this by you. I, as Republican Councillor, have worked for years alongside others to uplift the quality of life for one of the most blighted areas of the city, only to have this vital piece of needed economic development thwarted by Democrats. It has grieved me to watch a vulnerable population be used as a political football in an ugly partisan game. No pleading for intervention through the means of public pressure was heeded. I asked you, Matt Tullly, Erika Smith, Star Editorial writers, Andre Carson, Dan Carpenter(most renowned liberal cause flagwaver-hypocrite is thy name) to intervene and ask Council Democrats to work with me and not against me. But no, the Midtown TIF was passed-most benefitting Meridian Kessler and Broad Ripple residents. The Mass Ave TIF was passed-we all know what a blight those trendy restaurants are…The most crime ridden, socio-economically desperate, food desert area of the city gets a big fat NOTHING. All pleas for help were ignored. Not one word was uttered on any opinion page about the historical contradiction of a Republican elected official fighting Democrats to bring aid to the least among us.
    It’s easy to write words. It’s harder to act on them and make them meaningful. Until there’s a willingness to take on Democrats unwilling to favor the affluent at the expense of the poor, I hope you will refrain from using a broad brush to paint Republicans as heartless and uncaring of the disadvantaged.

  4. John,
    The trickle down theory of giving huge tax cuts to the wealthy which will then benefit the lower classes has been disproven so many times there isn’t a point in arguing it. It’s an article of faith in the Republican Party that making the rich even richer that everyone else benefits. There isn’t a single piece of non theorhetical research that supports this. Even the CBO has shown it was not true, yet was ordered by the congressional republicans not to publish their findings. Republicans don’t have an image problem; they have a philosophy problem.

  5. Did you see the report yesterday about the Facebook big wigs bragging that they got a 400 million dollar REFUND from the government yet paid no Fed or State taxes in 2012? You see John, THAT is the problem. 400 million could feed several million starving people in this country and yet the ‘so-called free market conservatives’ think that’s okay. We will be judged in the future by how we treat the least among us. The corporations needs to pay their fare share to do business in this country. It’s really that simple.

  6. Show me a free market conservative who thinks that is ok, and I’ll show you a liar. The two concepts are completely incompatible.

    How many of those facebook bigwigs are democrats? My guess would be more than half. Who wrote the tax code? Who has been in office from 2008-2010 who could have changed that?

    This is not a problem of the free market or it’s adherents. There are very few free market Congressmen, so few that their votes wouldn’t change tax policy which has been put into place by big government Republicans and Democrats.

  7. Realistically, there are two separate topics within this thread. An “image” problem and a “policy” problem. Anybody who thinks Republicans are the only ones tacking $$$ onto my children’s future debt obligations obviously hasn’t kept up with the issues. Clue phone: we’ve had reckless spending for the past 8 or 9 years with no end in sight. That’s a bipartisan policy problem. The image problem comes from everybody blaming the Republicans without analyzing the issues. With all due respect to the posters, this idea that we’re somehow leveraging our tax cuts into handouts for the wealthy doesn’t hold up to the numbers. I won’t bore you with the details of where our debt came(comes) from, you may research it if you like.

    Agreed it’s an image problem, but that has more to do with the Democrats being able to successfully demonize Republicans into somehow being the “party of the rich,” all the while claiming members like John Corzine and nominating the likes of John Kerry and Jack Lew. I do admire the nomination of Jack Lew for Treasury Secretary: it takes nerve to have the policy positions Obama has and push through a guy that raided a company and took a “golden parachute” bonus on the way out.

    The primary difference is that when Democrats talk about making “investments” in the economy on the backs of my kids and grandkids it’s somehow “okay.” It’s “okay” because they’re green companies with poor business principles and ethics who have donated large sums of money to the ruling party. It’s “okay” because they’re .com’s who don’t drill for oil, but instead offer no real good or service in exchange for money; companies like Amazon are nothing more than data aggregators who make more money off of selling YOUR information than they do selling books. Image problem? Certainly. Policy problem? Only if you turn your back to the ruling half of the problem.

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