January 23, 2005

COURAGE OF THEIR CONVICTIONS:

Can Anyone Unseat F.D.R.? (JOHN TIERNEY, 1/23/05, NY Times)

To some Republicans, the start of this presidential term is their moment, their chance to become the permanent majority party with a new vision that goes by various names: the ownership society, the Conservative New Deal, the New New Deal.

But can they really significantly trim seven decades of ever-growing programs? Can the New Deal government be rolled back?

Even some devout conservatives doubt that this can happen, and not only because of Democratic opposition. The skeptics believe that most Americans are unwilling to change the only kind of government that most of them have ever known.

After all, Americans love to talk about self-reliance, but they also love to vote for politicians who have been providing them with pensions, disability checks, health benefits, farm subsidies and other payments that have kept the government expanding through Republican as well as Democratic administrations, and especially during Mr. Bush's first term. [...]

The Republicans can point to some steps toward self-reliance, like the rise of 401(k) and other personal retirement accounts in place of corporate pensions, and the expansion of personal health-savings accounts in the latest Medicare bill. But that Medicare bill championed by Mr. Bush also contained a prescription drug benefit that was the costliest new entitlement in decades.

As they now take on Social Security, Republicans are counting on a more independent group of Americans, who are comfortable with placing their savings in the financial markets. And if Americans can be weaned from the Democrats' most cherished social program, the Republicans figure, the federal government will never be the same.


It's really a test for Republicans, of whether they believe the ideas they've been mouthing for years. Either the market works and the same amounts of money taken from people will realize higher returns, thereby providing the security they want but more efficiently, or they don't and the Party will be blamed for a catastrophe of epic proportions. It seems a risk well worth taking, but politicval parties in their entirety tend to be fairly risk averse.

Posted by Orrin Judd at January 23, 2005 6:38 AM
Comments

Please remember that this is about starving the beast. Privatization of almost anything is progress, but we need to keep in mind that soime oxen are being gored. Those who feed at the present trough, e.g. public school teachers, have an immediate, direct interest in its perpetuation. Those who will benefit from reform, while for greater in number, have an interest which is not immediately apparent. That's why it has taken so long to get where we are today.

Posted by: Lou Gots at January 23, 2005 11:03 AM

Please remember that this is about starving the beast. Privatization of almost anything is progress, but we need to keep in mind that soime oxen are being gored. Those who feed at the present trough, e.g. public school teachers, have an immediate, direct interest in its perpetuation. Those who will benefit from reform, while for greater in number, have an interest which is not immediately apparent. That's why it has taken so long to get where we are today.

Posted by: Lou Gots at January 23, 2005 11:22 AM
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