February 6, 2015

SECOND WAY ENDS BY FIRST WAY MEANS:

A New Kind of Republican : Is Jeb Bush a reformocon? Also, what's a reformocon? ( Reihan Salam, 2/06/15, Slate)

So what do the reformocons believe, exactly? Are they the GOP's answer to the New Democrats, a moderate faction devoted to making their party more electable by dragging it to the center? Or are they clever marketers trying to rebrand Reaganism for the 21st century? The simplest answer is that reform conservatives are garden-variety free-market conservatives who believe that a well-designed safety net and high-quality public services are essential parts of making entrepreneurial capitalism work. This separates them from more emphatically libertarian conservatives for whom the first priority is to eliminate as many government programs as possible. Then again, this anti-government zeal tends to be more rhetorical than real. Most rank-and-file conservatives tenaciously defend old-age social insurance programs like Social Security and Medicare. Meanwhile, most conservative lawmakers who call for, say, shutting down the U.S. Department of Education routinely vote to spend on every major program it oversees. You could say that reform conservatives are just acknowledging the obvious: Government is in the business of protecting people from some of the downside risks of economic life, so we might as well get used to it. Reformocons go further than that, though, in arguing that government can do a lot of good, provided that it sticks to doing a few things well.

Instead of defending the welfare state in its current form, reformocons look at the goals of programs like Social Security and Medicare and then try to find better, fairer, more cost-effective ways of achieving them. They believe a few other things as well. To the extent possible, social programs that help those who fall on hard times should be geared toward helping them achieve economic self-sufficiency, rather than letting them become permanently dependent. The tax code should encourage savings and investment. But it should also help low-wage workers out of poverty and do more for families with children. Barriers to upward mobility, like licensing restrictions that bar access to employment opportunities or urban land-use regulations that make housing unaffordable, are suspect. Reform conservatives, like most conservatives, favor greater competition in education and health care. Yet they also insist that government has a big role to play in making sure that everyone, particularly the poor, can reap the benefits of competition.


Reformicons are just late-comers to W's presidency and Jeb's governorship.


Posted by at February 6, 2015 5:00 PM
  

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