Raymond Richman - Jesse Richman - Howard Richman
Richmans' Trade and Taxes Blog
A Program for a Strong America? Not from these parties
In his most recent column (Published June 15 in the Virginia Pilot) David Brooks describes himself as a "Pundit under protest" because he thinks neither national party is seriously proposing policies that will tackle the major structural problems of the U.S. economy.
"I'm registering a protest because for someone of my Hamiltonian/National Greatness perspective, the two parties contesting this election are unusually pathetic... The Republican growth agenda -- tax cuts and nothing else -- is stupefyingly boring, fiscally irresponsible and politically impossible. ... As for the Democrats, they offer practically nothing. They acknowledge huge problems like wage stagnation and then offer ... light rail! Solar panels!"
Brooks is right that neither party offers an effective program to address the policy challenges that he has identified. The challenge: to solve the problems.
Public dissatisfaction with the alternatives Republicans (and Democrats) are offering is reflected in a variety of recent polls. I think it's interesting that 49 percent of respondents to a recent Fox poll state that the would probably or definitely vote for someone other than Obama while only 44 percent state that they would probably or definitely vote for Obama... and yet in the same poll none of the Republican candidates manage to get even close to beating Obama. Guliani does best at 43 to 47. Romney is at 41 to 49, and the rest of the field is even worse. The weak economy and other issues have made Obama vulnerable, but orthodox Republican candidates may not be able to capitalize on that.
Brooks suggests "If there were a Hamiltonian Party, it would be offering a multifaceted reinvigoration agenda."
What should such a package look like? One of the critical areas is what Brooks calls "a targeted working-class basket" The most interesting departure for Brooks from his usual free trade positions is his call for "a new wave industrial policy if need be." Clearly he isn't happy about including this... but hopefully this is the beginning of a rethinking of his previous polyannaish stances on trade (http://trade-wars.blogspot.com/2008/05/manufacturing-share.html). A critical element of an effective working class basket ought to be balancing trade, either through the scaled tariff or through import certificates.
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