Network News

X My Profile
View More Activity

What do Republicans believe on state aid?

Yesterday, I asked Reihan Salam to give some evidence for his claim that there is “a broad consensus" among conservatives and "large numbers of Republican lawmakers" that Congress should pass further state and local aid measures. According to Reihan, the only holdup was that Republicans wanted the aid to be contingent on states developing fiscally sound long-term budgets. As soon as Democrats endorsed that, it would be all systems go.

But when asked to name some legislation, Reihan didn't come up with much. "That is the basic idea behind Sen. Scott Brown’s Fiscally Responsible Relief for Our States Act," Reihan said. But Brown's proposal -- a proposal from one of the most moderate Republicans who is representing one of the most liberal states in the union -- doesn't have any co-sponsors, so it's hard to see how it represents a consensus.

Reihan, to his credit, predicted this point. "Sen. McConnell did not formally endorse the Brown proposal," he wrote. "But I nevertheless think it is appropriate to characterize something like the Sen. Brown’s Fiscally Responsible Relief for Our States Act as 'the Republican party line,' not least because the Republican party has a large presence in state legislatures." I've read that a couple of times, and I have no idea how the presence of Republicans in state legislatures makes Brown's bill the party line of congressional Republicans. One has nothing to do with the other. If congressional Republicans wanted to make Brown's bill the party line, they would've done so. That they haven't means, quite simply, that it's not the party line.

Moreover, making aid conditional on budget reform is not the basic idea behind Brown's bill. Just ask Brown:

The basic idea behind Brown's bill is that state aid should be funded using preexisting stimulus dollars. That's what he talks about in the video. He doesn't say anything about conditions. And to double-check, I read the bill. Still nothing.

It's possible I'm missing something in the legislative language, but from what I can see, Brown's bill doesn't make aid conditional on state reforms, and it doesn't have Republican co-sponsors. It provides no evidence for the contention that Republicans would happily partner with Democrats on state aid, if only Democrats would embrace more stringent conditions.

Reihan concludes his post by saying that "Republicans in the minority have been gun-shy about uniting around detailed legislative alternatives to legislation advanced by the majority. This reflects structural dynamics that Ezra has described very effectively on his blog." Agreed. And the structural dynamic it reflects is that Republicans want to deny Democrats accomplishments in the run-up to the election. That is the broad consensus among congressional Republicans, and it's something conservative intellectuals need to grapple with more straightforwardly.

By Ezra Klein  |  August 4, 2010; 10:01 AM ET
Categories:  Stimulus  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Wonkbook: Dems look to Collins; energy bill delayed; drilling ban may end early; Kagan to be confirmed tomorrow.
Next: Can you have a middle class without middle-class jobs?

Comments

Actually, what I, as a Republican believe is:

Do everything necessary to get people back to work; they pay taxes, states' coffers get replenished, crisis over...no need for "stimulus" (that we have to pay for later in taxes)

It's "trickle-up" time now, enough of the "trickle-down" Obamanomics.

Posted by: tspafford | August 4, 2010 10:27 AM | Report abuse

in other words, reihan told you what he would do if he were a leading republican.

but he's not a leading republican; he's just a scribe who doesn't want to acknowledge that the republican party has absolutely zero interest in policy thought.

none.

Posted by: howard16 | August 4, 2010 10:29 AM | Report abuse

tspafford @ August 4, 2010 10:27 AM wrote "Actually, what I, as a Republican believe is:

Do everything necessary to get people back to work; they pay taxes, states' coffers get replenished, crisis over...no need for "stimulus" (that we have to pay for later in taxes)

It's "trickle-up" time now, enough of the "trickle-down" Obamanomics."

That is a GREAT statement of principles, that I believe everyone, even Republicans/Conservatives/Tea Partiers, will agree to. Now, HOW will you do it? That is where Republicans/Conservatives/Tea Partiers fail: There is no proposal or idea or anything there.

Heck, they don't even agree with the tax law they passed in 2001 & 2003: No they want it changed (I am of course referring to the end in the income tax sale that they passed).

Posted by: AMviennaVA | August 4, 2010 10:37 AM | Report abuse

Actually, what I, as a Republican believe is:

Do everything necessary to get people back to work;

So ... what would you do to get people back to work? What is "everything" in your GOP world?

Posted by: cmccauley60 | August 4, 2010 10:37 AM | Report abuse

Here's a novel idea: how about reducing the federal tax burden on the states and their citizens so that the federal government doesn't have bribe money lying around?

Posted by: theduke89 | August 4, 2010 10:41 AM | Report abuse

The question -- "Now, how will YOU do it?" -- appearing in a comment above seems to be appropriate.

In business, I often see clueless employees undertaking arguably incorrect actions simply because they feel that they must do "something" to justify their employment. Congressional Social-Democrats are exhibiting similar behavior: the SDP mindset seems to be that "we must pass 'X', not because it does anything of value, but because if we don't our ineffectiveness will be overly obvious."

Politico today underscores the issue in a report (at http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0810/40561.html) which begins “Don’t bother trying to count up the number of agencies, boards and commissions created under the new health care law. Estimating the number is 'impossible,' a recent Congressional Research Service report says, and a true count 'unknowable'.”

Gee... it's a stretch to say "You have to pass the bill to see what's in the bill" but to be unable to say exactly what's in a bill that has been passed is alarming. Continuing the example, if an estimate of the number of agencies, boards, and commissions is unknowable, how are the costs and dangers related to these entities knowable? Passing such legislation creates an open-ended uncertainty... and voids all estimates of "savings".

Sometimes simply doing nothing is the best course of action. The federal government need not -- and cannot -- provide the "ultimate solution" to each of life's common difficulties. It seems appropriate to hold legislators responsible for knowing the potential ramifications of their actions: the old saying goes "fools rush in where wise men fear to tread".

Posted by: rmgregory | August 4, 2010 10:52 AM | Report abuse

"What do Republicans believe on..."

Wow Ezra, talk about your known unknowns.

I'd guess the answer to the above question, regardless of how you end it, is nothing.

They believe they need to get and maintain power in any manner, regardless of the cost to the country.

They also believe that they are the victims, it is never their fault, ever. Reagan triples the national debt? It is the Democrats fault. Bush doubles the national debt? It is the Democrats fault. The economy goes bad? Look at the evil brown people, if we don't kill the 14th ammendment and if we allow a mosque to be built in NY, then our economy will never get better.

You'd have more luck trying to figure out the meaning of a double rainbow (what does it mean!?!) than you would what today's Republican party stands for.

Posted by: nisleib | August 4, 2010 10:57 AM | Report abuse

I just read the bill quickly and there appears to be more than "nothing" in the way of state budget reforms.

Sec. 202--Reduces the increase in benefits under the supplemental nutrition
assistance program.

Sec. 203--Elimination of advance refund-ability of earned income credit (state matches federal funds)

These might be so small that for all intensive purposes they are nothing.

Posted by: Mazzi455 | August 4, 2010 10:58 AM | Report abuse

Good post by rmgregory. We have an economic downturn and the people (or some people), who are conditioned by Democrats to believe that government can do anything, command politicians to "Just DO SOMETHING!" Why is it that Democrats in power always end up doing something stupid?

November and the swearing-in ceremonies in January can't come soon enough.

Posted by: theduke89 | August 4, 2010 11:04 AM | Report abuse

rmgregory @ August 4, 2010 10:52 AM: You misquoted me. I posted "Now, HOW will you do it?", the emphasis in the 'how' not the 'you'. You then went on a diatribe about your opinion that the Democrats are just passing legislation, thoroughly ignoring the thrust of my post that the Republicans have proposed nothing to even look like they are considering solutions.

It is true that the federal government cannot provide the ultimate solution to each of life's common difficulties. Saying this is of course a favorite strawman tactic, since there is no claim that the federal government is the ultimate solution, etc, etc. It disqualifies your argument.

But it is true that the federal can provide needed support to the economy to recover, and can create and maintain an environment in which we (the people) can prosper (and I must confess that how companies fare is irrelevant to me - Alito not withstanding). So far the Republicans/Conservatives/Tea Partiers have refused to provide support for the economy, and have no proposal for a recovery. The only concrete statements have been that there are too many unemployed; the unemployed are lazy and not looking for work; GM&Chrysler should have been bankrupted (increasing the rolls of the unemployed). If you can make sense of these as an economic plan you are far more imaginative than I. Mind you, these statements were not made by extremists, but by the leadership of the party!

Posted by: AMviennaVA | August 4, 2010 11:15 AM | Report abuse

OK ... let me get this straight ... in the GOP world,

Do everything necessary to get people back to work;

Means -- do NOTHING?

Is that right?

Posted by: cmccauley60 | August 4, 2010 11:18 AM | Report abuse

"trickle-down Obamanomics." What a laugh to describe Obama's economic policies as trickle-down, the term developed to justify tax cuts for the rich.

Posted by: wrmurray1 | August 4, 2010 11:20 AM | Report abuse

Ezra, Reihan just called. For some reason he called you "daddy".

Posted by: Jenn2 | August 4, 2010 11:26 AM | Report abuse

"Republicans want to deny Democrats accomplishments in the run-up to the election. That is the broad consensus among congressional Republicans, and it's something conservative intellectuals need to grapple with more straightforwardly."

This is one of the nicest ways I've ever seen somebody say "quit lying!"

Posted by: mattmdavis1 | August 4, 2010 11:44 AM | Report abuse

We've had a number of comments regarding thee quote:

"Do everything necessary to get people back to work"

But so far, I still don't see any description of what this "everything necessary" is. Plenty of, "here is why I don't like what the Democrats are doing," but still, very little talk of what to do instead.

But, even if a commenter here does state it, the fact remains that the office holders still really haven't said very much either about what to do instead.

Posted by: nylund | August 4, 2010 12:58 PM | Report abuse

nylund @ August 4, 2010 12:58 PM wrote "the fact remains that the office holders still really haven't said very much either about what to do instead."

Precisely! I know what they don't like. But the reality is that I don't care what they don't like. I need to know what they will vote FOR (they don't even have to like that, by the way). Governing is not saying what you don't like, governing is choosing between usually unpalatable alternatives.

But then again, they did not do that when the Republicans controlled the Congress and had a Republican President!

Posted by: AMviennaVA | August 4, 2010 1:35 PM | Report abuse

I don't expect Ezra to agree with me on this, but to be clear I disagree on the goalposts:

http://www.nationalreview.com/agenda/242480/what-do-congressional-republicans-believe-about-congressional-democrats-reihan-salam

And here is the post Ezra is referring to:

http://www.nationalreview.com/agenda/242398/republicans-conditional-aid-states-reihan-salam

It is absolutely true that Brown didn't create a cash-for-cuts like provision -- I was careless with my parenthetical clause. This is one possible reason why he didn't attract co-sponsors, like the potentially persuadable Sen. Mike Enzi.

Note that Sen. Brown really is -- as Ezra notes -- the most moderate R from a liberal state. Hence, he has an unusually strong incentive to create alternative legislative proposals. This goes to the question of how valuable a test that is for what Rs would do in practice.

Posted by: reihansalam | August 4, 2010 7:55 PM | Report abuse

Post a Comment

We encourage users to analyze, comment on and even challenge washingtonpost.com's articles, blogs, reviews and multimedia features.

User reviews and comments that include profanity or personal attacks or other inappropriate comments or material will be removed from the site. Additionally, entries that are unsigned or contain "signatures" by someone other than the actual author will be removed. Finally, we will take steps to block users who violate any of our posting standards, terms of use or privacy policies or any other policies governing this site. Please review the full rules governing commentaries and discussions.




characters remaining

 
 
RSS Feed
Subscribe to The Post

© 2010 The Washington Post Company