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September 06, 2007

My Commenters Is Smarter Than I: Supply Side Edition

From kth:

Believing in supply-side economics is perhaps like believing in the Rapture. In polite circles, conservatives either don't believe in it or won't admit to believing. But among the conservative unwashed, you can't not believe in it. A talk radio host who denied that tax cuts increase tax revenues would be about as successful as a televangelist who preached that the Rapture was just an allegory.

Sadly, I don't think that's true for "polite circles." Serious academic types may not profess belief in supply side economics, but the conservative pundit elite -- folks like Novak, and Tony Blankley -- certainly do, and they're joined by the conservative think tanks which make up the movement's ideological core. In some ways. a better example of this phenomenon is immigration, where the elites really are repulsed by the base, but seem to have largely given up on getting sensible legislation passed, and are now on-board for short-term political advantage.

I was trying to think what issues on the left divide the base from the elite in the way that kth suggests. Maybe trade, but the elites fight with the base on trade, they don't look on indulgently as Democratic politicians legislate in ways they disagree with. For some time, withdrawal from Iraq was grassroots dogma that was viciously opposed by Democratic elites, but that's no longer the case. Indeed, I can't think of any realms where the elites disagree, but don't battle, the base. Am I missing something?

September 6, 2007 | Permalink


In arguments with my conservative economist brother, I get the feeling that if they can get enough people to believe with them then it will work. It is a 'snowball rolled off Mt. Everest would change the world' idea but I guess that is enough for true believers.
I don't believe that Democratic politicians are so reality-challenged that they would stand in front of that snowball at the bottom of the mountain.

Posted by: Hawise | Sep 6, 2007 8:37:35 AM

"For some time, withdrawal from Iraq was grassroots dogma that was viciously opposed by Democratic elites, but that's no longer the case."

Speaking from the grassroots, I don't think this is true. The grassroots want to withdraw, period. The elites want a different and reduced mission.

Posted by: Bob Narus | Sep 6, 2007 9:03:16 AM

Am I missing something?

Off the top of my head, do you think the unwashed Democratic masses were behind, say, Clinton's reduction of the Capital Gains tax from 28% to 20% in 1997? Or is that the kind of thing that "elites" might be more into?

Posted by: keatssycamore | Sep 6, 2007 9:05:06 AM

"Serious academic types may not profess belief in supply side economics"

When did this happen? Are you still confusion supply-side economics with Laffer-type ideas?

Posted by: DM | Sep 6, 2007 9:19:30 AM

the worst thing about this is that it is yet another instance of a large majority of republicans believing something that is clearly false, yet no argument or facts can sway them. Jane Galt sticking up for these people in any way clearly show her hand, she is a propagandist.

Posted by: mickslam | Sep 6, 2007 9:22:31 AM

My inaugural address at the Great White Throne Judgment of the Dead, after I have raptured out billions! The Secret Rapture soon, by my hand!
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Posted by: Secret Rapture | Sep 6, 2007 9:38:58 AM

For some time, withdrawal from Iraq was grassroots dogma that was viciously opposed by Democratic elites, but that's no longer the case.

Say what?

Posted by: Uncle Kvetch | Sep 6, 2007 9:45:38 AM

Well, what Ezra is talking about is a situation where the base/elite disagree, but they don't really argue about it. They quietly agree to disagree, or retain a facade of agreement.

I think on the left, it's health care for sure. The base wants single-payer, and the elites are gunshy on it. However, there's very little criticism of the base regarding this. (There are suggestions that it's politically impossible, but I think that's a completly different relationship)

Posted by: Karmakin | Sep 6, 2007 9:50:25 AM

Impeachment is definitely one issue. I think the base is pretty gung-ho for this, while the elites are gun-shy.

And in general, I think the base is all for challenging the Republicans and the Bush administration at every opportunity. Sadly, though, Reid, Pelosi, and the rest of the Congressional Dems are running scared on this.

As are the Dem presidential candidates, when it comes to leaving Iraq. Among the candidates whose Iraq position I'm familiar with, Richardson is the only one who seems serious about getting the hell out of there, for real, ASAP.

Posted by: Kathy G. | Sep 6, 2007 10:41:36 AM

Where do dems pander to the populist urges of the lefty electorate?

Trade is the closest, but all of the democratic leaders are free traders.

Global warming may be another -- they say all the right things, but don't actually try to do anything about it. Clinton's record on global warming was no different than Bush's, except he didn't vocally join with the deniers.

Posted by: pj | Sep 6, 2007 10:54:58 AM

Farm subsidies?

Posted by: Sean Carroll | Sep 6, 2007 12:20:16 PM

I wonder if there's some confirmation bias here: is it really true that democratic elites battle the base on trade? Certainly some people will say "free trade good" on the tubes, but my impression is that the public discussion on the left is mostly in line with the base.

Posted by: Justin | Sep 6, 2007 12:27:29 PM

The dynamic on the left is reversed- when the base and the elite disagree the elite do their best to just prestend the base doesn't exist and instead insist that all right-thinking people espouse the elite position.

On no issue that I can think of have the elite ever gone against their own inclinations in favor of a position held be the base.

Posted by: chimneyswift | Sep 6, 2007 12:30:06 PM

chimneyswift has the right of it, I think - the position of the elites and the base in the Democratic Party are the reverse of those in the Republican Party. Except the base is finally getting loud enough that the elites are starting to have to actively argue instead of just ignoring the screams of outrage from the base.

Posted by: NonyNony | Sep 6, 2007 12:32:35 PM

I think chimneyswift is right on in his analysis.

Freetrade vs fair trade in a big way, that's even seen in the blogosphere as two weeks ago wrt Chris Haye's craptastic Nation article on the non-existence of the NAFTA Superhighway and how is report was cheered on even by Digby. When the "truth" is that if there is no NAFTA Superhighway per se, all of the elements that make that up are in fact being constructed on various highways and in legislatures around the country. All in the name of free trade.

I suspect also on issues of drm, net neutrality, kelo the the elites differ from the public (that has heard of these issues.)

And also in a big way is the impact and wrongheadedness of Modern Feminism. Though many liberals started the path to being a liberal through Free Speech work, many liberals give that up to cede it to Modern Feminism's demand for speech codes. Many of us too, know there truly are courtroom biases against fathers sharing custody and police biases against believing who the perpetrator is in domestic violence cases and prosecutor bias in understanding that there is a significant number of false allegations of rape, and domestic violence made against men.

But the leaders currently cannot speak to that without fear of running into the Modern Feminist that claims to be a liberal, but won't let these topics be addressed or studied.

It is similar to how Bill Cosby and now Michael Meyers exec director of the New York Civil Rights Coalition and a former assistannt national director of the NAACP discuss the path forward for blacks in America http://www.advicegoddess.com/archives/2007/09/civil_rights_ve.html which is a rough horrible paraphrase is that all Americans and Black American Communities in particular need to stop the coddling and the pseudo-science and politically correct demands and start taking education seriously.

In all of these issues, I think that the base has a different position than the elite, and that the elite for whatever reason wishes the base would go away since the base is threatening the moneyed interests.

In many of these issues, I think we have lost liberals to libertarians or even to conservatives. I think these are some of the "I didn't leave the dems they left me" issues that we should be really be thinking about.

Yglesias the other day admitted that he often won't consider ideas or good science that he knows are not congruent with "the agenda" and so to buck that he actually considered one.

Any party that has a sizable number of leaders that pick and choose which science to believe, which science to ignore and misrepresent, and which science to fund based on political reasons cannot call itself reality based. And it deserves an unhappy ending when it drives off a cliff or smacks up against a wall that the bad science had foreseen.

Posted by: jerry | Sep 6, 2007 1:15:40 PM

Off the top of my head, the biggest one is gas prices, where the democratic dogma is something to the effect of "produce less oil, it will be cheaper!" Oh and rising prices are all the fault of a conspiracy of big oil producers and maybe the trilateran council.

Posted by: Scott | Sep 6, 2007 4:09:43 PM

It's true that a lot of what is said in favor of SSE these days is silly and uninformed. I've said so myself on a number of occasions. But the problem isn't that Republicans are especially prone to kooky economic theories and Democrats are immune. The extreme form of Keynesian economics that was popular in the 1960s and 1970s was just as nuts. And Democrats recited its claims with all of the certainty that Republicans make supply-side claims today.

What happened, of course, is that the extremem form of Keynesian economics was utterly discredited by the stagflation of the 1970s and fell out of favor. The same thing is going to happen to the extreme form of SSE in a few years when it becomes absolutely necessary to raise taxes to pay for all the spending that is already in the pipeline.

During the era of extremem Keynesianism, Republicans felt exactly the way Democrats feel about SSE today. In other words, these things are cyclical.

Posted by: Bruce Bartlett | Sep 6, 2007 4:19:55 PM

Except that statistically speaking, Keynesian fiscal policy has a better track record than SSE:


Posted by: Mr. Burns | Sep 6, 2007 11:21:08 PM

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