Reagan OMB Director: Republicans Are 'Ideological Gangs'

Wherein I go off on a tangent about means testing Social Security...

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H/T Egberto Willies

David Stockman, President Reagan’s director of Office of Management and Budget, gives a brutal assessment of today's GOP on "All In" with Chris Hayes. He say the Republicans are no longer a political party, and have become a coalition of ideological gangs.

Here, he breaks down those ideological gangs:

Chris Hayes: Now former Congressman David Stockman, Republican from Michigan. He was the director of the Office Of Management and Budget during the Reagan administration. He is the author of “The Great Deformation, The Corruption of Capitalism in America”. … You are someone who has kind of been in and out of the Conservative movement. You were a kind of a ‘purgee’ in certain ways. … How do you kind of understand this.

David Stockman: This isn’t surprising. The Republicans are no longer a political party. They are a gang, a coalition of ideological gangs. You have the neo cons, the tax cons, the social cons, and the just cons. … On the fundamental fiscal issues they don’t agree at all. It’s totally fractured. The neo cons want a bigger defense budget. We have a 650 billion dollar war machine. They did not get the memo that the cold war ended over 25 years ago. There are a few thousand terrorists left. You don’t need a war machine that big. By the way, when Clinton left the White House it was 400 billion dollars in today’s dollars. So they argue we can’t do sequester. We ought to be cutting much more. So that divides the party. Then you have the tax cons who still believe in the magic napkin. Just grow your way out of it. We’ve had 30 years to prove you can’t. … We have the social cons, the social issue people who don’t care. An then all the Republicans who have been talking about big spending who won’t stand up and take on social security means testing. Not cutting the people who need it. …

Chris Hayes: I would love nothing more -- as someone who does not want to see means testing of social security -- but I would love nothing than the Republican Party to take your advice and come out for means testing for Social Security.

It wouldn't be surprising at all to see the party of "cons" come out for means testing Social Security, but I don't share Hayes' hopes for having it become part of anyone's party platform.

Means-testing Social Security and Medicare is a cynical way to weaken and destroy benefits for middle-income working people. Lynn Stuart Parramore at Alternet wrote an excellent piece on means testing earlier this year, and described it as "...a counterproductive, harmful idea, but one that well-intentioned liberals often get snookered into embracing."

"Conservatives push means-testing because it’s a highly effective political strategy for getting liberals and progressives to act against their own values and interests -- so effective that some economists billing themselves as liberal, such as Jared Bernstein, a former adviser to the Obama administration, sometimes promote means-testing as a reasonable idea. Bernstein recently went on CNBC [4] and said that means-testing “sounded like a good idea” and characterized people opposed to it as “fringe.”

Bernstein’s assertion that means-testing opponents are “fringe” is nonsense. Does that include Paul Krugman of the New York Times, who describes [5] means-testing as "an even worse idea, on pure policy grounds, than even most liberals realize"? In researching this article, I communicated with several highly respected economists, including Nobel Prize-winner Joseph Stiglitz, James K. Galbraith, Dean Baker, and Thomas Ferguson. All of them expressed their concerns about means-testing and provided a variety of sound arguments against it. (Bernstein, after being roundly criticized, backtracked in a blog [6] and admitted that means-testing is a bad policy idea and a questionable way to address income inequality. He just forgot that when he was on TV!)"

If you'd like to know more about why means testing is a bad idea, check out Parramore's article at Alternet. I keep it bookmarked for reference.

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About Diane Sweet

Diane Sweet's picture
Senior Editor, Lives in a gerrymandered district in Michigan.

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