Moderates? Republicans?

Tue, 26 Apr 2011 13:30:37 +0000

The way Ezra Klein tells it is largely the way I remember it, too.  Antecedents of President Obama's policies -- an individual mandate in health insurance, cap-and-trade on emissions, and some willingness to raise taxes to close deficits -- can be found in Republican policies of the George H.W. Bush era.  I supported them then and support them now, though in a way that comes from the right side of the political spectrum rather than the left.  More specifically:

But I am not a dictator, don't think I should have the only or final word on this, and would expect to have to compromise.  I don't find Obama's policies to be beyond compromise.  Transported to a different era, Obama would have been a Rockefeller Republican -- actively using the government's powers to try to solve public policy problems and willing to go to the voters to get more revenues to do so.

The place where I disagree with Ezra's reasoning is here:

The normal reason a party abandons its policy ideas is that those ideas fail in practice. But that’s not the case here. These initiatives were wildly successful. Gov. Mitt Romney passed an individual mandate in Massachusetts and drove its number of uninsured below 5 percent. The Clean Air Act of 1990 solved the sulfur-dioxide problem. The 1990 budget deal helped cut the deficit and set the stage for a remarkable run of growth.

Rather, it appears that as Democrats moved to the right to pick up Republican votes, Republicans moved to the right to oppose Democratic proposals.

What was not wildly successful was the impact of the 1990 budget deal on President Bush's re-election campaign.  If politicians are not rewarded at the polls for the choices they make, don't expect other politicians to make similar choices.  The first move to the right wasn't by the Democrats.  It was by the Republicans on issues of tax policy.  More recently, this dynamic has been at work -- on issues not related to tax policy, the Republicans are moving to the right to oppose proposals that were previously part of their platform.