A New Direction, an Old Message

The Democrats have A New Direction which has some people comparing it with the Contract With America. I don’t think the two can be properly compared.

The Contract included (mostly) concrete and verifiable promises. You knew up front what you were going to get. The New Direction includes (mostly) fuzzy platitudes and indefinite statements. The two are nowhere near the same thing, except perhaps that the Democrats are hoping for the same energy as the Contract generated for House Republicans.

I don’t think it will. It’s just a restatement of the same old Fascist/Socialist nonsense that Democrats have always presented, and betrays total ignorance of the most basic concepts of economics.

Make Health Care More Affordable: Fix the prescription drug program by putting people ahead of drug companies and HMO’s, eliminating wasteful subsidies, negotiating lower drug prices and ensuring the program works for all seniors; invest in stem cell and other medical research.

The only things really solid here are reducing the incentives for private drug development, no means testing of benefits, and more government money for basic research that nobody will turn into drugs because it won’t pay. The rest is fuzzy.

Lower Gas Prices and Achieve Energy Independence: Crack down on price gouging; eliminate billions in subsidies for oil and gas companies and use the savings to provide consumer relief and develop American alternatives, including biofuels; promote energy efficient technology.

Ignoring the facts that reducing gas prices makes energy independence harder and less valuable, that significant price gouging doesn’t exist, that consumer ‘energy rebates’ have already died once, that biofuels are just more billions in subsidies, and that energy efficiency is already promoted by it’s cost savings, this still has no direct statement of how they intend to do these things. More touchy-feely, no real plan.

Help Working Families: Raise the minimum wage; repeal tax giveaways that encourage companies to move jobs overseas.

Increase the cost of most low-end and union labor, and companies won’t need tax incentives to seek out lower cost foreign labor. Do Democrats even know what percentage of working families have the primary wage-earner in a minimum wage job? This is just more pandering to unions.

Cut College Costs: Make college tuition deductible from taxes; expand Pell grants and slash student loan costs.

Let’s see, the supply of college diplomas is fixed, primarily by government regulation preventing new competition. So they’re going to lower costs by subsidizing demand, and for some reason they don’t expect prices to rise to a new equalibrium point. I call that dreaming in a teenager, and irresponsibly stupid in a lawmaker. College tuition costs will go down only when either fewer people want to go to college, or when more colleges are available. Nothing else will do it.

Ensure Dignified Retirement: Prevent the privatization of Social Security; expand savings incentives; and ensure pension fairness.

Because having more money if you invest smarter is undignified, because people really should want to put after-tax money into things like CD’s where they can earn less than inflation AND pay taxes on what they earn, and because nationalizing all corporate pensions so they can be managed just like the Social Security Administration is an obviously good idea. Yeah, making 100% of retirees dependant on the government is the way to give them dignity.

Require Fiscal Responsibility: Restore the budget discipline of the 1990s that helped eliminate deficits and spur record economic growth.

The discipline that the Democratic party fought so hard against? That they demonized? That they claimed would starve seniors and turn the poor out onto the streets? I should trust them after that kind of rhetoric against discipline, when they now claim to embrace it? Why? Did they ever say they were wrong?

Don’t get me wrong. I’m in favor of eliminating subsidies and reducing protectionism. But everything here that says ‘eliminate subsidy’ is directly followed with ‘and spend the money on’ something else. So all they give me is that the Democrats will subsidize something else. That’s not progress in my direction.

This entire wish list relies on people either being completely ignorant of the economic consequences of these actions, or being willing to read into the statements what they want to hear, rather than what the Democrats have said.

This list points up that the Democrats really have swallowed the ‘Positive Rights’ kool-aid. Since there is no such thing as positive rights that do not rest on a violation of natural ‘Negative Rights’, I still have to believe that a Libertarian Democrat is a contradiction in terms. This list reinforces that opinion.

via The QandO Blog


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