As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Impacts Of Conservative Demagoguery

The result of the recent conservative dominance on cable, even if not a lot of people are watching, is a growing amount of misinformation delivered to the public, over the course of many years. One of the reasons we focus on this and think it's so important is that progressives are cutting through 30 years' worth of rhetoric designed to push conservative movement ideas into the mainstream. And without a sustained effort to demystify those ideas, they will hold in the minds of the public EVEN IF the result of those ideas has been disaster. Republicans destroyed the country and people fully understand that, and yet their ideas haven't been invalidated. See this Rasmussen poll.

Paul Krugman, last year's winner of the Nobel Prize for economics and a regular columnist for the New York Times, recently wrote that you should “write off anyone who asserts that it’s always better to cut taxes than to increase government spending because taxpayers, not bureaucrats, are the best judges of how to spend their money.”

If you follow that advice, you’ll be writing off a majority of Americans. The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey found that 53% say that it’s always better to cut taxes. Only 24% share Krugman’s views.

Krugman’s views are a bit more aligned with public opinion when he asserts that “public spending rather than tax cuts should be the core of any stimulus plan.” On this point, the public is evenly divided--34% agree, 34% disagree, and 32% are not sure.

While overall public opinion is divided on that question, there is less public support for another Krugman claim. The columnist wrote that “it’s clear that when it comes to economic stimulus, public spending provides much more bang for the buck than tax cuts.” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi echoed that view on ABC’s This Week on Sunday when she said, “There is more bang for the buck by investing in food stamps and in unemployment insurance than in any tax cut.”

Thirty-one percent (31%) agree with Krugman and Pelosi that “public spending provides much more bang for the buck than tax cuts.” Forty-two percent (42%) disagree.

Now, running polls on factual statements by Paul Krugman isn't going to get the best result, especially because Krugman is a high-profile liberal and a small segment of the population will knee-jerk dismiss anything he says. The point is that conservative ideas live on despite the fall of conservatives nationally. Voters definitively favor Democrats over Republicans, but the ideas remain.

I try to think about the reaction to yesterday's party-line vote from the perspective of a low-information non-junkie. They saw Republicans vote as a bloc against a popular President who wants to create jobs. That's probably a net negative for Republicans as people. It has nothing to do with invalidating their ideas. And the Village obviously isn't going to help with that. Here's chief lickspittle Mark Halperin explaining how Obama "didn't go for centrist compromises" in the stimulus.

This is a really bad sign for Barack Obama to try to change Washington... he needs bipartisan solutions. They went for it, and they came up with zero... The other thing he could have done, you can go for centrist compromises, you can say to your own party, sorry, some of you liberals aren't going to like it, but I'm going to change this legislation radically to get a big centrist majority, rather than an all-Democratic vote. He chose not to do that. That's the exact path that George Bush took for most of his Presidency, with disastrous consequences for bipartisanship and solving big problems.

See, it was all Obama's fault. He didn't compromise enough and kick the left. By the way, I don't remember the media reporting on those "disastrous consequences" of George Bush's approach in real time, do you? Funny how bipartisanship only matters with a Democratic President.

I don't think Halperin's insanity will be listened to by the public, but the effect here is that conservative ideas are still respected while conservatives aren't. And so tax cuts will always be prominent in bills like this, limiting their effectiveness. "Market solutions" will always be preferred. People will think that conservative solutions done right are the path to success. And that is a looming disaster.

As it stands right now, there's one man being listened to seriously that can command an audience: the President. He hasn't used the bully pulpit to a great degree yet, though I assume that's coming. Until conservative ideas are rejected, we will continue in this muddle, blocked from the tools we need to get out of this economic crisis.

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