Sunday, September 16, 2007

They stab it with their steely knives but they just can't . . .

(graphic found at Professor Smartass blog)

The "Grand Old Party" is a little more compassionate and a little less grand today:
Lincoln D. Chafee, who lost his Senate seat in the wave of anti-Republican sentiment in last November’s election, said yesterday that he has left the party.

. . . “There’s been a gradual depravation of … the issues the party should be strong on,” and the direction of the national party, he said.

That’s no secret. In a Journal Op-Ed piece published on the Thursday before the election, Chafee himself laid out some of the ways he disagreed with his party, notably as one of only 23 senators and the only Republican to oppose the resolution supporting the invasion of Iraq. He went on to criticize the “permanent deficits” caused by Republican tax cuts.

Chafee referred yesterday to the broad-based, bipartisan Iraq Study Group that Congress created, a process Chafee approved of. The study group recommended a gradual pullback of American forces, and insistence that the Iraqi government take more responsibility for security. But he said that since the study group made its recommendations, which he agreed with, “no one’s paid any attention to them.”

As the election approached, Chafee cited his record opposing Republican initiatives like drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

I hadn't heard about his opposition to drilling in the ANWR, that's a good thing. Sounds almost like a . . . Democratic position, doesn't it. Not like the typical "pro-business" Republican mind-set.

But here's the most startling part:
He said the “starve the beast” strategy that Republicans have used in an attempt to shrink government has undermined social programs that bolster a strong American middle class. He mentioned Pell grants, which help needy students attend college, and Head Start programs, which support the education of low-income children. Instead of supporting those “good social programs,” he said, the party’s approach was “squeeze, squeeze, squeeze.”

Really now? That's going to put him in direct opposition to the Grover Norquist wing of the Party. Of course, even the libertarian Cato Institute doesn't much like the "Starve the Beast" theory of fiscal governance:

There are at least three problems with this perspective:

  1. It is most implausible that reducing the tax burden of government spending on current voters would reduce the level of government spending that Congress would approve. In private markets, there is a consistent negative relation between the price of a good or service and the amount demanded.
  2. The “Starve the Beast” assertion is inconsistent with the facts, at least since 1980. My study finds that there was a strong negative relation between the federal spending percent of GDP and the federal revenue percent of GDP from 1981 through 2005, even controlling for the unemployment rate.
  3. An increased belief in the “Starve the Beast” assertion has substantially reduced the traditional Republican concern for fiscal responsibility – leading to a pattern of tax cuts, increased spending, and increased deficits. This pattern has been strongest during the current Bush administration, primarily because the Republicans control both the administration and a majority of both houses of Congress.

Indeed. And in re: Chafee, what's that old saying about the enemy of my enemy...?