GOP Naiveté

During an interview with Dennis Prager on 23 Nov 2011, Sen. Jon Kyl – who was described in a Dana Milbank column as "cold and ruthless", "destructive", "walking napalm" and a tool of Grover Norquist – seemed naïve and unaware.

While discussing the committee, Kyl was asked if he thought the committee was doomed from the outset. He responded:

In retrospect it might have been. We didn't look at it that way in the beginning. But as I look back on it the two sides approached this with totally different goals in mind. We thought that this was the second half of the ballgame – you know, the debt ceiling extension of 2.4 trillion was predicated on saving that much money. And so, we passed the budget deal in August that saved just about a trillion, not quite. And then the other trillion and a half was supposed to come from the supercommittee, and we thought, on the mandatory side of the budget where 2/3 of the spending is – and that's the out of control spending, the unsustainable spending on Medicare, Medicaid, the food stamps, ag subsidies, all those so-called mandatory programs. So we thought this was an opportunity to get a handle on those. The Democrats approached it totally differently.
I thought we would succeed. I knew it would be very hard.

Our view of this was to try to reform the mandatory side of the budget and reduce the spending there. From the very beginning the Democrats had a different view. Their view was this is the place to raise a trillion – usually about 1.3 trillion, sometimes they said 1.2 trillion in new taxes. And so the two parties started from very different goals and I didn't realize that that's what they were going to try to do. And I don't know if they realized that we would try to push the mandatory spending reductions, but in any event, that gap made it very difficult. When the two sides don’t agree on the goal to begin with it's hard to reach consensus.
How is it that Kyl has a view of Democrats that only a person who has lived in a cave or is hopelessly naïve could have? As Ann Coulter recently reminded us in her column on how the GOP was hoodwinked during Reagan and Bush the elder, "As long as no one knows the history of these "deals," the media can carry on, blithely portraying Republicans as obstructionist nuts for refusing the third kick of a mule."

It is clear what the Dems are up to. This is not to say that what the left is up to is evil. John Edwards was right when he said there are two Americas. The left and right have irreconcilable differences. It is not that they have similar goals but different ways to get there. They have different goals.

But how is it that a key member of the GOP is unable to see or understand the conflict of visions that is so vital to understanding the path forward for our country? How could he have missed over the last three years of the Obama presidency that the left are Keynesians through and through? Is this irrepressible optimism or naiveté on stilts?

Paul Krugman understands what is going on. In his 17 Nov 2011 article he stated:

Why was the supercommittee doomed to fail? Mainly because the gulf between our two major political parties is so wide. Republicans and Democrats don’t just have different priorities; they live in different intellectual and moral universes.
So the supercommittee brought together legislators who disagree completely both about how the world works and about the proper role of government. Why did anyone think this would work?
But don’t we eventually have to match spending and revenue? Yes, we do. But the decision about how to do that isn’t about accounting. It’s about fundamental values — and it’s a decision that should be made by voters, not by some committee that allegedly transcends the partisan divide.
About this Krugman is right. There is a battle between competing visions in America today. And Krugman is clear about his vision.

Raising taxes increases revenue, and cutting spending while the economy is still depressed reduces employment.
Slashing spending while the economy is depressed destroys jobs, and it’s probably even counterproductive in terms of deficit reduction, since it leads to lower revenue both now and in the future.
He is against spending reductions. Only Keynesian spending splurges will do. All Kyl had to do was open the New York Times to discover what the left is thinking and how they were going to behave in the supercommittee.

Furthermore, Krugman is able to recollect GOP welshing on deals:

For one thing, history tells us that the Republican Party would renege on its side of any deal as soon as it got the chance. Remember, the U.S. fiscal outlook was pretty good in 2000, but, as soon as Republicans gained control of the White House, they squandered the surplus on tax cuts and unfunded wars.
Apparently the GOP had made promises to not allow terrorist attacks and subsequent military endeavors in exchange for something unnamed. This bogus recollection, in contradistinction to the real Democratic promises to reduce spending that never materialized, is used by Krugman to warn against making any deals with Republicans. Who's the do nothing party now?

Republicans are often dismissed as RINOs or Democrat Light because of a softening of their views and actions once in office. Sen. Kyl seems to have conservative bona fides, so if he does not prevail against liberal ideas, it apparently is not because he is a RINO. But his comments to Prager reveal a soft Pollyanna underbelly and/or naiveté that is anything but cold and ruthless and may produce similar results as a RINO. If he is unaware of the positions, values and vision of his intellectual opponents, whether RINO or orthodox conservative, he will lose to their ideologically driven agenda.

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