The Best Policy

The GOP’s New Strategy: Bring Back Hoover!

The Republicans’ “Pledge to America” revives the most disastrous economic ideas in U.S. history.

Herbert Hoover

Nothing seems to be going right for the Obama administration these days. The only meaningful sound bite from a town hall meeting designed to demonstrate the president’s empathy and human side is a former Obama supporter tired of defending his presidency. Poverty rates fly through the roof to 14.3 percent, a total of 43.6 million people, an all-time high. The White House itself seems to be approaching chaos, with Larry Summers leaving, Rahm Emanuel flirting with departure, and Bob Woodward painting an unattractive picture of the administration’s discussions about the Afghanistan war.

But there may be good news on the horizon for the president. The Republican “Pledge to America” has been issued, so we now finally know what the party of “no” will do if it regains control of Congress.  And for those who recall the history of the Great Depression, and the enormous success that President Herbert Hoover had pulling us through and restoring the vitality of the American economy, there is good news: We will revisit those glorious days.

The horrors of Keynesian economics will be abandoned, government spending will be slashed, federal investment in infrastructure will be abandoned in deference to the 10th Amendment, and we will finally force Congress to tell us what constitutional authority it has to pass laws.

Offensive bills such as the stimulus will be properly relegated to the dustbin, so that job creation can be exclusively the domain of the businesses who have been held back recently only by the outrageous marginal tax rates that they face.  Indeed, just for good measure, those rates will be cut once again.

If anyone’s recollection of U.S. history is a bit fuzzy and needs a more recent example than the Hoover presidency to gain comfort that these ideas will work, no worry. Any doubts that the “Pledge to America” will generate enormous growth and wealth can be relieved by thinking back to the great prosperity that President Bush bequeathed to President Obama. Don’t you remember the glorious year of 2008?

To read this “pledge” is to fall into Wonderland, to enter a fantasy world where logic means nothing, straight lines do not exist, the imagination can run wild unencumbered by fact,  and all is a mirage of desire and fancy. 

Beyond the incantation of the mantra of lower taxes and curbing any government action other than defense spending, not a single meaningful proposal about economic revival can be found in the document. It is no more than a bromide against all that has been done in the past 21 months to reverse the Bush economic cataclysm. 

One wonders what the authors of this Tea Party-driven document have learned from history.  Are they really no wiser than the Medicare recipents who chanted  “get government out of my health care”?

Even after Alan Greenspan has confessed error, after the intellectual leader of the libertarian world—Judge Richard Posner—has disavowed most of his prior assumptions about the market’s ability to function  absent government intervention, the Republican establishment lies prostrate in front of the Tea Party and proclaims fealty to President Hoover’s agenda.

Slate V: The GOP Pledge to America

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