Andrew Sullivan is Astroturfing (or is it asshole-turfing? Most likely BOTH in Sullivan’s case! ) for his fellow Liberals.
Andrew Sullivan says:
Here’s another example. There’s a groundswell of grousing on the right about the cash-for-clunkers program, because the feds were caught off-guard by its popularity. The argument is that if the government can’t run cash-for-clunkers, how can it run healthcare?
To which one might respond: but cash-for-clunkers is one example of the government actually doing something right, helpful and popular. It’s the kind of pragmatic experimentation that FDR tried repeatedly. So you have a practical, targeted measure that seems to have helped abate a deeper recession in the auto industry, and the right is obsessed with the ideological abstraction of “government.”
What conservatives have to do, in my view, is not demonize government, but to champion limited government. If government can do tangible practical things that help everyone, while balancing its budget, it’s doing what conservatives think it should. Smart, practical initiatives that address problems that the private sector has failed at: what else is government for? The rest is ideology – and it seems to be all the Republicans have left.
Can someone tell how the Government affecting the Markets is doing something right? I mean, Ron Paul knocked out of the ballpark, when he said in his video that, while the “Cash for Clunkers” program might help those who are able to buy cars; but that it would damage the market for the poor people who buy those older so-called “Clunker” cars.
Reason Magazine’s Matt Welch weighs in:
I’m nobody’s conservative, but I’m pretty sure if I was telling conservatives how to think I wouldn’t admonish them for failing to champion limited government within two sentences of praising FDR’s pragmatism. It’s like, I dunno, lecturing the Labour Party about demonstrating their pro-union bonafides while praising Margaret Thatcher’s centrism. Sounds a bit off.
Sullivan is dead right about one thing: Cash-for-clunkers is indeed very “popular.” So is the home mortgage interest deduction, the prescription drug benefit, and any number of federal programs that siphon from the diffuse pool of tax revenue+debt and blast out concentrated benefits to the broad middle class. The standard for judging these things shouldn’t be popularity–Richard Nixon’s wage-and-price control spasm of 1971, to name one of many historical measures now widely and rightly considered asinine, was hugely popular at the time–but whether they make sense in both the short and long term.
Cash-for-clunkers amounts to a rounding error in Tim Geithner’s nose-hair at this point, which is probably why at least some liberals seem so genuinely baffled by the disproportionate criticism it has drawn. But for some of us it’s also a nearly perfect symbol of economic statism run amok. The federal government is taking from the many, giving it to the less-than-many, destroying functional cars, funneling money to an auto industry that it already largely owns (at a hefty taxpayer price tag), then taking multiple (and multiply premature) bows for rescuing the economy and the auto industry in the process.
I understand, and even appreciate, that not everyone interprets things this way. But what I don’t understand, and ultimately don’t respect, is the weird urge to react to yet another Obama administration brainfart by rounding up its opponents and putting them in a metaphorical holding pen marked “ideologically obsessed.” Particularly after eight years in which the only detectable ideology was taxcut-and-spend, and otherwise do what parties in power always do: look for creative new ways to bribe the middle class.
I happen to like that last part about bribing the middle class. Is not that the honest truth? I mean, the Republican Party does it, and so do the Democrats. Bribe the middle class for their vote. I tend to believe it happens on the left more; but honestly, both sides do it. This program is an example of that.
James Joyner weighs in as well:
Piggybacking on WSJ’s point, it strikes me that the “clunkers” aspect of this arrangement is morally dubious. Glenn Reynolds‘ 2004 Mazda RX-8 is a clunker that, were he so inclined, he would be eligible to trade to the government (indirectly) for $4500. It would then be scrapped. Doesn’t this remove a perfectly good used car from the market that some person of modest means could otherwise have purchased, either upgrading from an older, less reliable vehicle or none at all? And doesn’t doing that mean the price of other used cars will increase accordingly?
Which is exactly what Ron Paul said in his video. Here is another area that this program will hurt. Auto Mechanics; these guys are the ones who keep those older cars going, thus creating a living for themselves. Which, in case the liberal socialist left have forgotten; does contribute to the economy. Which proves to the this writer, that the socialist far liberal left, in their quest to further their so-called Green agenda, which is basically a big scam, that is only going to benefit big business; they have left the most important people behind —- their constituents, that are the poor and lower middle class in this Country.
Graphic Credit: McGurk @ Ace of Spades