Carnes: When did the Republican Party, champions of the free market, start wanting bigger government? (column)
August 13, 2018
This becomes more confusing on a daily basis.
The political ideology I grew up with has morphed in only a few short years into a garbled goop of GOP paradoxical parodies.
Their long support of free trade — meaning no tariffs — with other nations has been replaced with protectionism, inevitably leading to economic isolationism.
The tremendous tariffs this administration is slapping on almost $300 billion worth of imported goods has not only put the United States on track for the largest trade deficit in a decade, but domestically puts them in the socialist position of providing $12 billion worth of "farmer welfare" to help food producers hurt by the lost sales due to the tariffs.
Combine this with the cost of living in the United States rising at its fastest rate in the same time period, inflation hitting a six-year high and negative wage growth, and the only conclusion one can reach is: "What the hell?"
The way to reduce a trade deficit is for U.S. companies to sell more products and services to the people in other countries, not less. Tariffs, especially high ones, are turning Brand USA toxic.
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Remember Grover Norquist and his silly "Taxpayer Protection Pledge" in which more than 90 percent of Republican in the House and Senate promised to oppose all tax increases? I do, and since the '60s it has been a GOP staple to never grow the deficit. (It also reminds me of Neidermeyer in "Animal House" shouting, "A pledge pin!" But I digress …)
Our national-debt-funded tax cuts have combined with deregulation and government spending sprees to increase our annual deficit an incredible 28 percent over just last year, ballooning the national debt to more than $21 trillion.
Again, what the hell?
The GOP has forever promoted strong alliances and standing up against brutal regimes, railed against executive overreach and been fervent supporters of the FBI and CIA. Now they appear to be for nationalism, pretend brutal regimes are allies and routinely condemn the FBI and CIA.
They shout for more deregulation, yet they promise to increase regulation on the pharmaceutical industry, forcing them to charge the American people less for their products.
Since when does conservatism support limiting capitalistic potential?
They tout current job growth, yet year-to-date numbers were larger in 2014 and 2015, and 2017 was the weakest year since 2011.
They associate themselves with Alex Jones and InfoWars, conspiracy-laden babble from Q-anon and wear blinders toward the reality that MAGAnomics ain't all it's cracked up to be.
And who can say the words "Space Force" with a straight face?
Conservatives used to be against more government, but they want to spend another $8 billion to create yet another branch of the military, even though 30,000 already work for the space command department of the Air Force?
Like "The Wall," does this mean E.T. will be forced to pay for it?
Either way, while their polar opposites are desperately preoccupied trying to describe what they see in a mirror, conservatism has taken a dark turn down a blind path with far too many forks in the road.
I'm afraid to guess their final destination.
Richard Carnes, of Avon, writes weekly. He can be reached at email@example.com.
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