Brooks: The Era Of Big Government Returns

David Brooks predicts the return of big government:

We’re entering an era of epic legislation. There are at least five large problems that will compel the federal government to act in gigantic ways over the next few years.

First, there is the erosion of the social contract. Private sector firms are less likely to provide health benefits, producing a desperate need for health care reform. Second, there is the energy shortage. . . . Third, there is the stagnation in human capital. . . . Fourth, there’s financial market reform. . . . Fifth, there’s infrastructure reform. The U.S. transportation system is in shambles and will require major new projects.

In short, Brooks is saying that Republicanism has failed. And indeed it has. More . .

Brooks acknowledges Democratic dominance and yet finds a silver lining for conservatives:

All of this means that the next few years will be an age of government activism. You may think, therefore, that this situation is ripe for Democratic dominance. The Democrats are the natural party of federal vigor. Voters prefer Democratic approaches to issues like health care and education by as much as 25 percentage points.

Yet, historically, periods of great governmental change have often been periods of conservative rule. It’s as if voters understand that they need big changes, but they want those changes planned and enacted by leaders who will restrain the pace of change and prevent radical excess. Two of the most prominent conservative reformers were Benjamin Disraeli and Theodore Roosevelt. Both reframed the political debate so that it was not change versus the status quo, it was unfamiliar change versus cautious, patriotic change designed to preserve the traditional virtues of the nation.

Now we see where Brooks is going - John McCain as Teddy Roosevelt. Brooks always shows his hand:

John McCain’s challenge is to recreate this model. He will never get as many cheers in Germany as Barack Obama, but for a century his family has embodied American heroism. He will never seem as young and forward-leaning as his opponent, but he did have his values formed in an age that people now look back to with respect. . . . If McCain is going to win this election, it will because he can communicate an essential truth — that people in a great and successful nation do not want change for its own sake. But they do realize that it’s only through careful reform that they can preserve what they and their ancestors have so laboriously built.

Sure, Brooks, sure.

Speaking for me only

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    What a joker that David (5.00 / 2) (#2)
    by Lahdee on Fri Jul 18, 2008 at 10:26:40 AM EST
    Conservatives represent
    leaders who will restrain the pace of change and prevent radical excess.
    Yep, invasion by lie, torture by default, Constitution as toilet paper, incompetence as a rule and lies by the thousands, that's the restrain of radical excess we all crave nowadays.
    Grand Democratic "federal vigor" make it easier to identify republicans and libertarians over the next few years though. They'll be the ones twitching and bouncing off of walls. Couldn't happen to a nicer bunch.

    That USED to be the way it was (none / 0) (#50)
    by sj on Fri Jul 18, 2008 at 02:02:53 PM EST
    leaders who will restrain the pace of change and prevent radical excess.

    In theory.  When I was a kid.   That was how the synergy was described when I was in school.  Progress and reform want to be implemented NOW and the role of the conservative was to act as a brake to slow things to a manageable speed.  Not to bring it to a complete halt or put the car into reverse.

    I bought that theory back then.  It USED to be that I agreed with R's about the problems, just disagreed about the solutions.  That was back pre-Bush, pre-Gingrich, pre-Bush, pre-Reagan, pre-return-of-the-robber-baron.

    That old school R is dragged out as a face to use when it's convenient.  But in today's world, that facade is really just a cardboard cutout.  Hopefully the cutout has been in the sun long enough to see it for the fraud that it is.

    Heck, I don't know.  Maybe it was a cut-out back then, but I didn't know it.


    It's always good (none / 0) (#67)
    by Lahdee on Fri Jul 18, 2008 at 04:40:13 PM EST
    to review that cardboard cutout status often so we don't forget.

    brooks has a short memory. (5.00 / 3) (#3)
    by cpinva on Fri Jul 18, 2008 at 10:32:58 AM EST
    the last "era of big government" occured during the reagan administration. contrary to popular conservative belief, the fed gov't expanded under him, and the national debt ballooned, due to excessive spending on defense, and massive reduction of taxes on the wealthy.

    do we sense a pattern here?

    we've gone from the era of "voodoo economics" under reagan, to "i don't even have a quasi-theory of economics" under bush. as far as i can tell, neither obama or mccain seems to offer much better, at least at this juncture.

    to be fair, at least obama (or his advisors) have the good sense to say he'll work to kill off the recent tax breaks for the wealthy. mccain, not so much. as well, obama gives the impression he thinks economics is somewhat important to the national health, mccain just wants to fight vietnam again, and again, and again.

    The last!? (5.00 / 4) (#9)
    by Demi Moaned on Fri Jul 18, 2008 at 10:40:18 AM EST
    How can you tell me we're not currently in an era of big government-- in so many ways bigger than ever. What has the Bush era been but a continuous casting off of restraint in promoting pet interests.

    The fact that they're irrevocably opposed to government actions that actually improve the life of ordinary Americans is hardly the same thing as promoting small government.


    Indeed (5.00 / 1) (#10)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Fri Jul 18, 2008 at 10:41:33 AM EST
    To be fair, (5.00 / 1) (#12)
    by pie on Fri Jul 18, 2008 at 10:43:57 AM EST
    they want to privatize Social Security.



    It's ALWAYS a big government (5.00 / 3) (#24)
    by eric on Fri Jul 18, 2008 at 11:14:28 AM EST
    the only thing that changes who benefits.  It's either "big military-government contract-cronyism" big government or "social safety net-build roads-fund education" big government.  They're both big.  The former seems to bankrupt us and the latter seems to rebuild us.

    Very true.... (none / 0) (#32)
    by kdog on Fri Jul 18, 2008 at 11:47:10 AM EST
    since the federal government starting collecting income taxes it's been big and getting bigger.

    Since I know my dream of a small federal govt. will never happen in the existing two-party machine, I'll take Big Govt. Option B...social services and infrastructure...hold the cruise missiles.


    Yup (5.00 / 2) (#37)
    by Claw on Fri Jul 18, 2008 at 12:06:02 PM EST
    "Returns?"  What is he talking about?  We now have the largest (and most irresponsible) government ever.  They've just cut out the things that made government good.  Maybe he means that the era of helping people, etc., is returning.

    Does Bobo mean (5.00 / 4) (#4)
    by pie on Fri Jul 18, 2008 at 10:33:56 AM EST
    big government or big brother government? ;)

    Shall we compare sizes of those prior to the Bush administration?  There must be someone out there with a measuring stick that can tell us how big government has gotten in eight years.

    Then there are big deficits.  Let's talk about those, David.

    Republicans: in favor of small government?

    Watch what they do, not what they say.

    Go back to the drawing board (5.00 / 4) (#5)
    by Mike H on Fri Jul 18, 2008 at 10:34:35 AM EST
    Far better, I think, would be for conservatives and the GOP to go back to the drawing board and figure out what they actually stand for -- rather than simply trying to figure out the right way to "market" their candidate without really standing for anything.

    One of the many problems the current GOP faces is that it doesn't really stand for small government, they just like a different big government than the Dems do.  The GOP loves the idea of a huge military, a gigantic Homeland Security, big FBI/CIA/domestic spying... and they would be perfectly happy for the government to be morality police as well, watching and restricting what we do in our bedrooms and with whom, what women do with their own bodies, what substances we can or cannot ingest, etc.

    That's all BIG government, make no mistake.  It's just not the big government of liberals, who are more likely to support social safety nets like unemployment, social security, medicare, universal health, education... as well as (clearly desperately needed) regulation like the FDA, the EPA, the FEC, and the SEC.

    The GOP in many ways have made the government bigger than any Dem ever has, and arguably not for the benefit of most Americans, either.  I think most people won't mind bigger government if it's useful, effective, and beneficial bigger government.

    (Off-topic response from another thread: No, I am not Mike Hunt who used to post in Americablog, I've always posted as "Mike H", even there, but I understand the confusion.)

    People in glass houses... (5.00 / 3) (#6)
    by pie on Fri Jul 18, 2008 at 10:35:44 AM EST
    Far better, I think, would be for conservatives and the GOP to go back to the drawing board and figure out what they actually stand for -- rather than simply trying to figure out the right way to "market" their candidate without really standing for anything.

    The product is message (5.00 / 4) (#20)
    by Fabian on Fri Jul 18, 2008 at 10:54:58 AM EST
    not the messengers.

    But it turns out to be so much easier to sell the messenger/candidate than the message/philosophy.  The whole idea behind presidential campaigns anymore is to contrast Candidate A and Candidate B and avoid talking actual effective policy whenever possible.

    Candidates often seem so unwilling to talk in concrete terms about basic issues like economics that I wonder sometimes if they actually understand those issues.  If the rising cost of energy will inevitably cause an economic contraction  because our economy is based on cheap energy, then what are our options?  The obvious answers are simple enough.
    A) Change nothing and watch our economy contract every time the price of energy rises.  Also known as "the market will provide".
    b) Move away from an exhaustible and increasingly expensive energy source and towards renewable and diversified energy sources.  (And BTW, quite possibly become the leader in cutting edge energy technology and creating a sound economy in times of global economic distress.  Oh, and working against Global Warming.)


    For the record (5.00 / 9) (#7)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Fri Jul 18, 2008 at 10:36:46 AM EST
    the Era of Big government actually never ended. George W. Bush expanded the government and in ways never before seen.

    The fact that Republican ideas and Republican government officials are utterly incompetent is why Republicanism failed.

    "Government activism" was never the problem. REPUBLICAN government activism has always been the problem.

    I doubt if government (5.00 / 1) (#11)
    by pie on Fri Jul 18, 2008 at 10:41:51 AM EST
    employees have ever been more partisan.  We've heard plenty about the incompetent ones.  Who knows what the rest of them have been up to.

    Going to take years to undo the mess.


    Not sure it'll get done in my lifetime! One can (none / 0) (#23)
    by DeborahNC on Fri Jul 18, 2008 at 11:07:45 AM EST
    hope though. Hope, now there's a word I've heard a few times lately.

    Hope. Heh... (none / 0) (#34)
    by oldpro on Fri Jul 18, 2008 at 11:51:37 AM EST
    Hope might get you to heaven (if there is one) but it won't get you across the street or buy your supper...that takes actual effort...

    Unfortunately, our legislators don't seem to be (none / 0) (#44)
    by DeborahNC on Fri Jul 18, 2008 at 12:56:16 PM EST
    exerting much effort. Me? I've written letters and made phone calls. Has it helped? I don't think so.

    Slightly off topic but ... (5.00 / 1) (#16)
    by Demi Moaned on Fri Jul 18, 2008 at 10:47:56 AM EST
    there's another right-wing frame at play in Brooks' discussion:
    He will never get as many cheers in Germany as Barack Obama ...

    The ability to make a Democratic candidate's appeal in allied countries an object of suspicion.

    Returns? When did it leave? (5.00 / 1) (#18)
    by splashy on Fri Jul 18, 2008 at 10:53:30 AM EST
    Didn't the Repubs make the government much, much bigger, with all the "security" things they have added, along with the black hole money pit of "defense" that gobbles up huge amounts of borrowed money without anyone knowing where it's going?

    Is he trying to be funny? I'm thinking he would fit right in at the Onion.

    It's also the Democrats failure (5.00 / 2) (#21)
    by koshembos on Fri Jul 18, 2008 at 11:00:36 AM EST
    Despite my opposition to anything Republican, the failure is the Democrats as well. Infrastructure wasn't a priority for 30 years and a Democratic congress didn't even ask for anything. Health care? even Obama doesn't go there yet. In Maryland, where I live, Democrats controlled government for more than a generation (with an Ehrlich thrown in briefly) and they have no support for solar energy or any other form of environmental support.

    It's a blind country, where the pretend progressives have even decided to throw the poor under the bus so that the middle class could able continue its old ways.

    Sometimes (2.00 / 1) (#27)
    by flashman on Fri Jul 18, 2008 at 11:31:46 AM EST
    you have to read the article and just ignor opinions about what it said.  I disagree that Brooks is asserting Republicanism hasn't worked.  The problem, as I see it, is that America no longer stands for triditional values or hard work and thrift.  It's all about instant gratification now, no matter what party you are affiliated with.  That is what makes the American society unsustainable.  The question is, who will lead us back to our roots?

    Yes (5.00 / 2) (#39)
    by Claw on Fri Jul 18, 2008 at 12:11:30 PM EST
    "We've become a nation of whiners."  Hell, we'll whine about anything!  Working harder for less money, losing our homes, not having healthcare.  Makes me sick.
    Why, when I was a lad we stood for traditional things, like segregation and the acceptance of spousal abuse.  And absolutely no one was gay!  That's another thing!

    Not sure (none / 0) (#47)
    by flashman on Fri Jul 18, 2008 at 01:08:31 PM EST
    what spousal abuse and segregation have to do with hard work and thrift.  Sure, Americans work more hours and for less pay each year that goes by.  But what has happened to national savings?  It's disappeared!  Why do people continue to drive 10,000 pound behemouth vehicles when we know that oil is running out?  Are we going to take the bold steps and sacrifice for energy indpenedence?  Or are we going to continue to try to exploit finite resources untill they become so scarce that nobody will be able to afford them?  Will we protect American jobs, or will be continue to export them to low wage nations?  Does a sense of shared sacrifice exist in our society, or will we depend on the government to solve these looming problems?  These are crutial issues as America enters a very challenging era.  I wouldn't be so quick to poo-poo the questioners.

    I thought (5.00 / 1) (#68)
    by Claw on Fri Jul 18, 2008 at 05:36:45 PM EST
    It was pretty clear that I was jokingly pointing out the absurdity of your original post.  Perhaps I should have started "I wore an Onion around my belt, which was the fashion at the time."  You and I know that phrases like leading "us back to our roots."  Can be used cover myriad sins.  And the two things I joked about are, in fact, our "roots."  
    As for hard work...are you kidding?  Americans have become outrageously thrifty and are working harder than ever because they have to.  Now, maybe once BO becomes President they'll all take a big long break.  I rather doubt it.  

    I think you mean pooh-pooh (none / 0) (#52)
    by sj on Fri Jul 18, 2008 at 02:36:04 PM EST
    poo-poo is what is left in diapers.  

    But this comment is an example of what I refer to here.  I'm with you in all of this

    Why do people continue to drive 10,000 pound behemouth vehicles when we know that oil is running out?  Are we going to take the bold steps and sacrifice for energy indpenedence?  Or are we going to continue to try to exploit finite resources untill they become so scarce that nobody will be able to afford them?  Will we protect American jobs, or will be continue to export them to low wage nations?  

    And I just came to a screeching halt with this.

    Does a sense of shared sacrifice exist in our society, or will we depend on the government to solve these looming problems?  

    In my view Government is there so that we can work collectively on things that can not be managed individually.  I don't want to hire my own security -- I want a police force.  I don't want to pave the streets in my neighborhood.  I want the city government to handle it, and I'll pay my share of taxes to pay for it.  I don't want to pay $500 a month of pure profit to a health insurer for individual coverage.  I'd rather pay that in taxes to get UHC.  

    On the other hand, I am perfectly capable of deciding how large my family should be.

    As for being "quick to poo-poo the questioners" ... well, that's almost too easy.


    Not So Different (none / 0) (#57)
    by flashman on Fri Jul 18, 2008 at 02:55:50 PM EST
    But having a police force and paving streets doen't absolve us from collective sacrifice.  We PAY for those things through our taxes.  We ARE government.  But I might have been more clear had I asked "Are we going to BLAME government..."

    My larger point is this; to meet and defeat the challenges we face is to require shared sacrifice from everyone.  People are looking for a 'quick fix' to the challenges we face.  For example, I have read about the increased support from voters to open national refuges and coastal waters for drilling.  They've become convinced that big oil can solve all the needs of energy if we just let them drill where ever they want.  Thus, we sacrifice nothing, well except our pristine coasts and preserves.  Quick fix!  Meanwhile, the message that we have to invest in energy independence is getting drowned out by the drilling interests.


    To be honest (5.00 / 1) (#60)
    by Steve M on Fri Jul 18, 2008 at 02:58:52 PM EST
    I have no idea how "shared sacrifice" would even work as a concept, in a country of 300 million people, without the government playing some sort of a role.

    Of Course Government Plays A Role (none / 0) (#61)
    by flashman on Fri Jul 18, 2008 at 03:05:51 PM EST
    But ultimately, the millions of voters will decide what direction government takes.  For example, will we decide to invest in the future by persuing alternate energy ( as Mr. T Boone advises ) or will we passively trust big oil to develop the future of energy?  It's one thing to advocate a government solution, but quite another to sell it to the public.

    1) Savings rates are cyclical and their importance overrated 2) Why do people trapped under water continue breathing the available air even though they know it will run out? 3) No. 4) Yes. 5) We'll do whatever results in the lowest prices to consumers. 6a) No. 6b) Yes, fatally.

    So, You're Saying (none / 0) (#59)
    by flashman on Fri Jul 18, 2008 at 02:58:38 PM EST
    We need to drive large, inefficient and unsafe vehicles to survive?  ( same as we need to breath air )  Sorry, you've lost me there.

    An exaggeration, perhaps, to make a point. (none / 0) (#63)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Fri Jul 18, 2008 at 03:06:29 PM EST
    Sometimes you have to what? (none / 0) (#28)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Fri Jul 18, 2008 at 11:33:38 AM EST
    Excuse me, what exactly are you talking about?

    What exactly are you unclear about? (none / 0) (#33)
    by flashman on Fri Jul 18, 2008 at 11:51:36 AM EST
    Your comment (5.00 / 1) (#36)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Fri Jul 18, 2008 at 11:56:09 AM EST
    in its entirety is gibberish as far as I am concerned.

    I feel the same way (none / 0) (#45)
    by flashman on Fri Jul 18, 2008 at 12:58:29 PM EST
    about your 'analysys'

    Spelling (none / 0) (#46)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Fri Jul 18, 2008 at 01:04:31 PM EST

    Gold Star For You (none / 0) (#48)
    by flashman on Fri Jul 18, 2008 at 01:12:37 PM EST
    at least you're a pretty good proofreader.

    Other than a major (none / 0) (#29)
    by pie on Fri Jul 18, 2008 at 11:34:41 AM EST
    catastrophic economic event?

    There's no going back, I'm afraid.  And I neiher want nor expect the president to accomplish it.


    The Major Catastrophic Event (none / 0) (#31)
    by flashman on Fri Jul 18, 2008 at 11:42:15 AM EST
    may be just on the horizon.

    Commons (5.00 / 2) (#25)
    by Carolyn in Baltimore on Fri Jul 18, 2008 at 11:18:29 AM EST
    It was Eisenhower who spoke about the Commons - the things of our life that affect us a a community rather than individuals - the market square, the roads and transportation, the environment, the communications network.

    So the republicans have a history of protecting the Commons, which ended by the time Reagan was Prez.

    Brooks gets the problems right - his list of 5 things that government should be solving are right on. And then he blows it.

    It is time for FDR-like action. Healthcare, the schools, energy and transportation, communication systems, the environment all need to have federal control and activism and a recognition that these things are important to ALL of us, and more in our security interests than fighting unethical illegal wars for the benefit of a few.

    We are in really bad shape economically, and not near the bottom yet. But think about what our troops could do converted to civilian purposes and where the 200 billion a year could get used instead.

    The FDR-like action.. (none / 0) (#40)
    by kdog on Fri Jul 18, 2008 at 12:14:36 PM EST
    sounds great on paper, like communism and anarchy sound great on paper...the rub is the implementation.

    Do you just trust any of these pikers in office or running for office to do it without it becoming just another kick-back/looting scam like the Iraq war and occupation?

    I like our odds better if we scaled the federal govt. back to pre-federal income tax levels and let states or local communities implement the social services.  There will still be corruption, kick-backs, and looting...but the smaller the beuracracy the greater the chance of success.  Bigger is not better in this regard, imo.


    Other developed countries (5.00 / 1) (#49)
    by Alien Abductee on Fri Jul 18, 2008 at 02:02:17 PM EST
    manage to deliver large-scale services like health care, education, energy, public transportation, communication systems, environmental protection laws, etc. to their citizens without turning them into massive corruption schemes for their cronies. Maybe there's something in American attitudes toward government, like seeing it as the enemy and a parasite and not expecting it to deliver anything of value, that becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. I'm reminded of my Republican brother who tells his kids 'hilarious' things like, Wear your bike helmet - remember if you fall off and hit your head you'll have to go work for the government when you grow up.

    Most of the countries.... (none / 0) (#51)
    by kdog on Fri Jul 18, 2008 at 02:19:32 PM EST
    who are sucessful are about the size of your average US State....maybe that has something to do with it?

    It could be a self-fulfilling prophecy, I really don't know, I do know the prophecy is fulfilled on the regular.

    Maybe there is something in America's worship of the all-mighty dollar, and not just our feelings on govt. being the enemy.

    I think Ronald Reagan was an awful president ...but he did say one thing I agree with...."I'm from the government and I'm here to help" is one scary sentence.  I've seen their brand of help, so have the people of Iraq...no freakin' thanks.

    If a grand Republican conspiracy is behind this sentiment, it worked.


    There are examples of success (none / 0) (#55)
    by Alien Abductee on Fri Jul 18, 2008 at 02:42:12 PM EST
    SS has worked. It's a third rail with good reason. Public education used to work. Universal access to health care can be a raging success.

    I think people just have to experience the benefits of successful programs for themselves and see that they're not just for someone else before they get it. That's I think the motive behind what seems to be deliberate GOP gov't corruption and incompetence - it limits successful examples and feeds the libertarian impulse that says No, government doesn't work, it's useless at providing services, let's not even try. Just cut my taxes.


    Perhaps... (none / 0) (#58)
    by kdog on Fri Jul 18, 2008 at 02:57:33 PM EST
    The govt. has only shown me grief, stained my hands with blood,  and made me a criminal...I'm sure they provide something of benefit (or I hope), but I don't see it in day to day life.  

    Maybe a smashing sucess of a federal program would change perceptions...how do we do that with people like Bush and Pelosi in charge?

    If we want a new New Deal...I think we need a new party or two.  For all I know the Dems are in on the sabotage scheme.


    Higher expectations (none / 0) (#62)
    by Alien Abductee on Fri Jul 18, 2008 at 03:05:52 PM EST
    of what's possible is a start, and holding them to higher standards instead of giving up and thereby giving them a pass for failure.

    I agree there's been lots of bad, and from what you've said about your own experiences I understand where you're coming from. It's just that I live outside the US now and have seen these things can be done with reasonable efficiency and minimal corruption, so I know it's more than a theoretical possibility.


    I hear you too man.... (none / 0) (#64)
    by kdog on Fri Jul 18, 2008 at 03:21:06 PM EST
    Believe me I'd like to believe....but I'm a cynical f*cker:)  

    The problem again is there are only two parties here in the US...you hold the Republican accountable and elect a Democrat, while the same interests that bought the Republican buys the Democrat...rinse and repeat over and over.  There disagreements are only for show....George Carlin's Illusion of Choice theory.


    There are institutional (none / 0) (#65)
    by Alien Abductee on Fri Jul 18, 2008 at 03:53:05 PM EST
    problems for sure with a binary system. Getting money out of elections and real public financing would help, not that I hold out much hope that's ever going to happen.

    A rigidly binary system doesn't have to become corrupted if there's a desire to build in mechanisms to identify and control corruption. But even at the best it won't have the structural flexibility to be able to produce things like this. What a bit of tinkering with the system could do...


    Brooks ignored the elephant in the room (5.00 / 1) (#35)
    by wurman on Fri Jul 18, 2008 at 11:54:05 AM EST
    Another Brooks, Rosa @ LA Times (link) actually discusses the MAJOR issues for government in the next cycle--War in general, Iraq & Afghanistan in particular.
    I want Ritalin!

    Added to the water supply in Washington, I mean. In a nation where every other 9-year-old seems to be medicated for attention deficit disorder, why do we refuse to take seriously the attention deficit disorder crisis afflicting so many of our political leaders?

    In my view, the economy is actually the #1 Issue, as per H. Clinton's appeal to low-information & redneck Appalachians.  However, the economic fixes travel straight through the Pentagon budget ("President Bush has sent to Congress his Defense budget for Fiscal Year 2009.  The budget provides $515.4 billion in discretionary authority for the Department of Defense (DoD), a $35.9 billion or 7.5 percent increase over the enacted level for Fiscal Year 2008."  And there will be an additional $70 billion supplemental budget for the wars.  HTML here (link).)

    It seems to me that D. Brooks wants to pretend that his list can receive attention without first having a myopic focus on the $585 billion piddled away on the USA Dept. of Offense.  Pfffft.

    Well, OK...but it's not (5.00 / 1) (#38)
    by oldpro on Fri Jul 18, 2008 at 12:07:03 PM EST
    'real money' for the wars and much of the defense budget.

    It's borrowed.  From 'Communist China!'  Talk aboutcher irony being dead...

    Republicans will borrow money for war machines but not for anything Democrats care about so it's not as if those dollars could 'come home' and take care of health care or bridges or highways or floods or K-12 education or you-name-it...

    Can't happen.  And the taxes we actually pay can't really go for those things either, so long as we're 'doing the debt thing.'  Our tax dollars have to pay the interest on the money we're borrowing!

    Guess how much THAT is!


    What a bunch (5.00 / 1) (#41)
    by Faust on Fri Jul 18, 2008 at 12:22:08 PM EST
    of !@#$%@#$ horse!@#$%

    I despise Brooks. (5.00 / 1) (#43)
    by Joe Bob on Fri Jul 18, 2008 at 12:54:36 PM EST
    Brooks has made a wonderful niche for himself in the punditocracy. He gets to play the role of mainstream boomer cultural and policital commentator when, at his core, he's just another movement conservative carrying water for the GOP.

    When Brooks mentions these problems: health care, energy, human capital (i.e.: education), financial markets, and infrastructure he seems to elide the question of how and why these things came to be problems.

    As the Bush administration comes to a close we will be leaving behind an era of massive government activism. The catch is, we don't seem to have a goddamned thing to show for it. We have seen the birth of an entirely new cabinet-level agency, the Department of Homeland Security, and the addition of $3trillion to the federal debt, and I don't see how we're much better off for it than we were eight years ago. Honestly, if you were to ask me to name some successes of the Bush administration, the only thing I can think of is Medicare Part D, and that's a mixed blessing at that. At least it's fixable, unlike the rest of the Bush legacy, where most of the options range from bad to worse.

    Thanks for the new word (none / 0) (#54)
    by sj on Fri Jul 18, 2008 at 02:40:33 PM EST
    How is it I've never seen (or noticed) "elide".  Thank you.

    TR was a Republican but no conservative (5.00 / 1) (#53)
    by McKinless on Fri Jul 18, 2008 at 02:39:16 PM EST
    He was the PROGRESSIVE in his runs for the presidency. He was an environmentalist, a trust-buster, and more.

    Unlike McCain. And Brooks.

    Well, as Sen. Obama moves right (none / 0) (#1)
    by zfran on Fri Jul 18, 2008 at 10:24:24 AM EST
    Sen. McCain is moving slightly left which brings "change/reform" to the middle for either one. I agree with Brooks that careful reform is needed and each candidate must address how to keep the balance. It will take both parties working together (what a concept!). (How's that for a middle of the road position!)

    McCain moving left? (5.00 / 2) (#8)
    by CST on Fri Jul 18, 2008 at 10:39:09 AM EST
    Could've fooled me.  Last I checked, he moved to the right on taxes, off-shore drilling, torture, and immigration.  Which were some of his only "moderate" stances.

    She Thinks McSame Is Pandering To Her (2.00 / 1) (#14)
    by squeaky on Fri Jul 18, 2008 at 10:47:13 AM EST
    She seems to authentically like the guy. Must be his charm with the ladies, because I am with you, no move to the left as far as I can tell...

    Again, civility is an adult (5.00 / 2) (#17)
    by zfran on Fri Jul 18, 2008 at 10:53:03 AM EST
    virtue. "She" doesn't see you as an adult, so "she" will not respond to your tone and attitude. "She" would like to send you to your room! I do "like the guy." I "like" alot of people for whatever reasons I choose. I like some things about Obama as well. I am a equal-opportunity American.

    Looks Like She Did Respond (none / 0) (#22)
    by squeaky on Fri Jul 18, 2008 at 11:06:16 AM EST
    Must be my charm....

    Your charm, if you're listening, (none / 0) (#69)
    by zfran on Fri Jul 18, 2008 at 07:40:29 PM EST
    isn't working and is quite tarnished. I can only hope, that if you have children you are passing your political "charms" to, you show them more respect than many you show here. I am still disappointed in you...there is always room for redemption.

    lol (none / 0) (#70)
    by squeaky on Fri Jul 18, 2008 at 11:22:54 PM EST

    "she" (none / 0) (#42)
    by Claw on Fri Jul 18, 2008 at 12:29:45 PM EST
    May want to check out McCain's positions, however.  Last I checked he was visibly squirming at the prospect of answering a question about birth control.  

    I think leaning left (none / 0) (#13)
    by zfran on Fri Jul 18, 2008 at 10:44:36 AM EST
    toward gay adoption qualifies, courting indys qualifies, courting Hillary supporters qualifies, talking about health care qualifies. It may not be far far left, but it's there.

    "leaning left" (none / 0) (#19)
    by CST on Fri Jul 18, 2008 at 10:53:45 AM EST
    Gay adoption?  He has expressed his personal distaste for it, and said it's a state issue, clearly not something he will push for, although if not banning it is leaning left, then sure.

    Talking about healthcare and courting Hillary supporters by calling Obama's plan "Hillarycare" and lambasting it in the news.

    Courting indys and Hillary supporters how exactly?  Campaigning?

    Not far left?  That's the understatement of the year.


    Predicts AND Endorses! n/t (none / 0) (#15)
    by LarryInNYC on Fri Jul 18, 2008 at 10:47:41 AM EST

    Maybe (none / 0) (#26)
    by mmc9431 on Fri Jul 18, 2008 at 11:19:06 AM EST
    We'll finally realize that we can't continue to spend over sixty cents on every tax dollar on the military. It time we realign our priorities. We can't bear the cost to be the world's police.

    Heh (none / 0) (#30)
    by Steve M on Fri Jul 18, 2008 at 11:40:13 AM EST
    Teddy Roosevelt, the legendary trust-buster, was a conservative?  Really?  Seems to me that the entire schism in the Republican Party that led to Wilson's election occurred because Teddy Roosevelt didn't want to take the party in a conservative direction!

    Speaking of which, the other day Rick Perlstein flagged a great TR quote from the 1912 Republican primary.  Now here's what a fighting progressive sounds like:

    Col. Roosevelt emphasized two points in his speeches to-day. He said, first, that there would be no compromise in the selection of a Republican candidate for President so far as he was concerned.

    "I'll name the compromise candidate," he went on. "He'll be me. I'll name the compromise platform. It will be our platform."

    Wrong Conclusion (none / 0) (#66)
    by pluege on Fri Jul 18, 2008 at 04:07:12 PM EST
    In short, Brooks is saying that Republicanism has failed.

    I think republicans would view their work and come to exactly the opposite conclusion - that they have achieved their goals wildly beyond expectations:

    • a very small number of obscenely rich control all the power, are free to raid the tax payers wallet at will for any purpose they choose, and throw money to each other without any accountability.
    • a much larger share of the population is impoverished with no hope of improvement. As such they are easily manipulated with fear tactics, false patriotism, lies, deceptions, and inane distractions. They also have little choice, but to supply canon fodder to the elites' obscene games of global domination.
    • the tax burden has been substantially shifted to a vanishing middle class opening the way to eviscerating government functions other than the military.