Friday, January 29, 2016

how the GOP's dishonesty led to the rise of trump and cruz?


WaPo |  To understand why the current conservative crack-up so confounds the Republican establishment, you have to recognize that the party is facing two separate but simultaneous revolts: one led by Ted Cruz, the other by Donald Trump.

The first is well described by E.J. Dionne Jr. in his important new book, “Why the Right Went Wrong.” For six decades, he explains, conservatives promised their voters that they were going to roll back big government. In the 1950s and early ’60s, they ran against the New Deal (Social Security). Then they railed against the Great Society (Medicare). Today it is Obamacare.

But they never actually did anything. Despite nominating Goldwater and electing Nixon, Reagan and two Bushes, despite a congressional revolution led by Newt Gingrich, these programs endured, and new ones were created.

The simple reason for this is that while Americans might oppose the welfare state in theory, in practice they like it. And the bulk of government spending is on the middle class, not the poor. Social Security and Medicare take up more than twice as much of the federal budget as all non-defense discretionary spending . One middle-class tax exemption — for employer-based health care — costs the federal government more than three times the total for the food stamp program.

Whatever the reality, Republicans kept promising something to their base but never delivered. This has led to what Dionne calls the “great betrayal.” Party activists are enraged, feel hoodwinked and view those in Washington as a bunch of corrupt compromisers. They want someone who will finally deliver on the promise of repeal and rollback.

Enter Cruz. How did a first-term senator, despised within his party both in Washington and Texas, get so far so fast? By promising to take on the party elites and finally throttle big government. Cruz has said that he will repeal Obamacare, abolish the IRS and propose a constitutional amendment to balance the budget — which would mean hundreds of billions of dollars in spending cuts.

Trump’s supporters, on the other hand, are old-fashioned economic liberals. In a powerful analysis, drawing on recent survey data from the Rand Corp., Michael Tesler shows that the Trump voter is very different from the Cruz voter. “Cruz outperforms Trump by about 15 percentage points among the most economically conservative Republicans,” he writes. “But Cruz loses to Trump by over 30 points among the quarter of Republicans who hold progressive positions on health care, taxes, the minimum wage and unions.” Trump is well aware of this fact, which explains why he has said repeatedly he won’t touch Social Security or Medicare, spoke fondly of the Canadian single-payer system, denounces high chief executive salaries, promises to build infrastructure and opposes free-trade deals.