David Brooks, when you’re right, you’re right.

David Brooks, my favorite conservative columnist, has hit the nail on the head.

Since my exodus from the South, I’ve evolved into somewhat of a bleeding heart liberal, yet I still bear a soft spot for the conservative ideal of responsible spending. I don’t like to see government waste, but paying taxes is a responsibility that comes with the blessing of living in a free nation. Our freedom won’t remain intact without some financial input, and that price must include the cost of educating our citizenship, taking care of our environment, and protecting those who are weakened by physical, mental or financial liabilities.

Of course, my fondness for fiscal responsibility is in no way related to the single track mind of today’s Republican base, currently being dragged through the mud by Tea Party darlings Michelle Bachmann and the like. There has never been a more ripe example of how political forces can combine to bastardize a good idea. In truth, I can’t decide if the failure is due more to a lack of economic intellect among the major players of the party, or simply a desire to appease an uneducated base. Maybe it’s both, but the movement has made it impossible for me to consider voting for a Republican, even one with moderate social politics, for fear of their propensity to drive our nation into bankruptcy for the sake of reelection.

I worry what happens next month when our country is slated to go into financial default, and I don’t see any urgency or willingness to compromise from those that pledged fiscal responsibility in last year’s elections. I can only hope that, as David Brooks suggests, this series of events drives the Republican Party into the true fringe of American politics. It’s time for a change and sensibility when people talk about responsible spending and tax policies. The Tea Party had its chance but has proven unworthy for riding the winds of change. I’m waiting for a genuine conservative revolution, which moves this country back to the understanding that taxes are not evil, the appreciation of intellect in our leaders, the embrace of every citizen’s freedom.

Then and only then, the *other* party might have a shot at earning my vote.

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12 thoughts on “David Brooks, when you’re right, you’re right.

  1. The democrats want to cut social security and medicare too (at least the smart ones do, including Obama), they just want the republicans to take credit for it. One of these days I’ll put up the CBO graph that everybody in government and policy circles is aware of… it is pretty terrifying.

  2. Ooh, please do. It would be interesting!

    I’ve always figured that medicare and social security are going to have to be cut- the only question is whether we do it carefully and with a plan that attempts to minimize pain, or whether we trundle merrily along until some sort of crisis forces a painful and disorderly adjustment. I actually think something similar about public sector pensions.

    I consider myself to be pretty liberal. But I’m not stupid! I can see the fiscal mess that is coming.

    And really, I think the more accurate description of me would be socially liberal, fiscally middle of the road- and mostly interested in solutions that WORK.

  3. I’d also love to see it. Even the most liberal of MDs that I know insists that Medicare has to be dealt with soon. It’s just a problem of who’s actually going to be willing to tackle it, and how much politics will derail the negotiations.

    My biggest issue with the Republican Party fringe is the faulty idea that taxes stifle economic growth and that the market, left to it’s own, will take care of everyone. I’m not sure where the idea came from that pure capitalism = freedom.

  4. The biggest problem with cutting Medicare is that our population is aging. Medicare already has been cut several times in the last several decades causing hospitals and doctors to take smaller and smaller payouts (i.e. absorbing costs which much be met somewhere else). This causes a low pressure area to develop. Insurance companies, while also trying the low bid thing, raise their rates to fill their portion, but in the end costs are not being paid by the patients. In comes the Federal government since we can’t let our hospitals go under as fast as they would otherwise. This past few years, the US saw our healthcare go from majority paid by citizens to 51% being paid for through the fed (taxpayers). Cut Medicare at a time when more people are going on it? Not a good idea. Change the rate that we pay into since it hasn’t changed for a very long time – I don’t remember the date, sorry. Yes, it’s a kind of tax, but it’s one we will all benefit from in some way.

  5. The big reason that Medicare needs to be cut is that the population is aging. It is soon going to destroy the US. We’re actually going to need a combination of tax increases, benefit reductions, and redesign (I am hopeful about electronic records decreasing costs).

  6. Loved your blog and Brooks’ column. I am really concerned about the “anti-intellectualism” voice in the Republican Party that seems to be growing louder and louder. Nobody seems to want to use logic or think any more. The fact is we need to both cut spending and increase revenue. And yes, Medicare needs to be addressed; so does Social Security. I’m pretty much planning on neither being around when I retire. I have yet to hear any politician admit that. And we need to protect and grow the middle class. The distribution of wealth is becoming too rich-poor with nothing in the middle, and that is incredibly destabilizing for a society.

  7. The distribution of wealth is becoming too rich-poor with nothing in the middle, and that is incredibly destabilizing for a society.

    This. Too many people out there (especially those without lots of money for some inane reason) don’t realize that a thriving middle class is in their best interest. Taxes aren’t about re-distributing wealth, they’re about stabilizing a class that drives our economy.

  8. of course, despite the fancy talk there is no evidence whatsoever in the past 30-40 years that mainline Republicanism is actually in support of fiscal responsibility. they spend like drunken sailors on their pet interests (i.e., subsidies for ginormo-corporations, war efforts which need lots of public money going into….ginormo-corporations) and only want to cut “waste” that affects someone else. I’m surprised you repeat this tired lie about the “conservative” position.

  9. today’s Republican base, currently being dragged through the mud by Tea Party darlings Michelle Bachmann and the like

    No-True-Scotsman gambit. Not buying it. The Republican base IS the Tea Party in philosophy if not in excess.

  10. they spend like drunken sailors on their pet interests (i.e., subsidies for ginormo-corporations, war efforts which need lots of public money going into….ginormo-corporations) and only want to cut “waste” that affects someone else.

    No doubt, but the Democrats can spend just as readily on their own pet projects – I just happen to agree with what they spend their money on (in most cases). My purpose in writing this was to stress that there really is no intellectual conservative base (which I may be wrong in thinking there used to be) that understands economic theory. And I’ve never viewed the Republican party as a truly conservative party. Not that I’m an expert, but the people out there touting themselves as conservatives only know two words – “cut taxes”. A *true* conservative should be willing to attack our multitude of spending problems – needless wars, medicare waste, bureaucracy run amok have all contributed to the mess we’re in. Nobody seems interested in fixing the roots of the problems – just in getting votes by running down the ideas of others. The tea party is just the latest and most disturbing example of this fiscal neglect.

  11. Anyone who talks about cutting taxes, or simply extending many existing tax policies (e.g. the Bush tax cuts) without talking specifically about how they are going to cut Medicare, SS and Defense is blowing smoke and should be laughed out of public discourse.
    Anyone who describes themselves as “fiscally conservative” who is not willing for the US to pay it’s existing bills (which is what raising the debt ceiling is), deserves to be dipped in chocolate sauce and left for the ants (if tarring and feathering is now too barbaric).

    When the NYT had a little ‘balance the budget’ calculator thingy, I got there with about 50% revenue increases (like phasing out Bush tax cuts for everyone) and 50% expense reduction (including things like increasing the SS qualifying age). Ultimately, there are lots of ways to do both that I could get behind. What I really like about Brooks is that he lists the figure the republicans could get- 3:1 cutting: revenue increase. He’s right- they’re idiots if they don’t take it. Crazy idiots. But, alas, not harmless ones.

    Medicare and health care costs generally are a boondoggle and need to be dealt with, lest we continue to spend more and more and get less and less. That said, we’ve got more than enough money as a country to fund medicare and SS at the current rates. But people would have to suck it up and deal with higher taxes.
    I used to say I’d just assume neither would be around for me, and I’d love to plan my retirement to manage without them, but I now feel like saying this is giving up. I don’t want to give up… I want these programs to be around for my kid. And I’m willing to pay for it. Though I’d like more bang-for-my-buck on a lot of the healthcare.

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