The Atlantic’s Marc Ambinder points out that the Republicans may be ignoring a very important constituency:
Economic libertarianism is the message du jour, and Pawlenty’s budget-cutting in Minnesota may get some attention. But really, neither he nor the other sober wing candidates have figured out exactly what the non-Palin wing of the party wants. There’s no way to court social conservatives with Palin or Mike Huckabee in the race. So who’s left to help you win primaries and caucuses?
To the Republican Party, they are — they could be — what the anti-war left was to Democrats in 2003: the out-of-the-establishment power center that can drive the narrative of the race. How do you get the attention of libertarians without losing conservatives? You could shift positions on the war in Afghanistan, or try to fashion a more realist foreign policy. That seems to be a non-starter; the consultants for these candidates are fairly covnentional and risk-averse. Endorse medical marijuana? Legalize gambling? Something else?
The problem for the GOP is that they’ve never quite figured out what that “something else” is, and they’ve spent so much time supporting candidates, and backing policies, that are anathema to libertarians that it’s hard to beleive them when they say they’ve changed this time.
In my time, I’ve lived through two occasions when the GOP claimed to be the party of small government.
Do we spend $1 trillion a year on foreign policy? That was a claim recently made by Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX). The statement got the attention of the folks over at Politifact. They reviewed it, and they found it to be true:
We consulted numerous defense budget experts on the issue. They all agreed that it depends largely on how one defines “foreign policy.” Changing the definition means changing the programs that one includes in the calculation, which impacts the total amount.
Winslow Wheeler from the Center for Defense Information sent us a table which details the “U.S. security” expenses for 2010. The total comes out to $1021.3 billion, slightly over $1 trillion. The calculation includes the interest on the Department of Defense Retiree Health Care Fund and on debt-financed defense spending.
Cindy Williams, a principal research scientist at the MIT Security Studies Program told us to check out her presentation on historical U.S. defense and foreign affairs spending trends. Looking at projected spending for the year 2010, summing up national defense programs, homeland security programs, and international affairs initiatives totals $841 billion. Add in the VA budget of $125 billion and we get $966 billion. Williams said that she wouldn’t include the interest payments attributable to past debt-financed defense spending in her own analysis, “since there is no good way to judge whether debt accumulated because we spent too much on security, or because we raised too little in taxes.”
Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX), speaking in a hearing with White House economic adviser Christina Romer, explains that the American people can handle the truth about the economy:
There has been yet another story published about the factions of the tea party movement, which are divided along the lines of Sarah Palin and Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX), and the split over defense spending:
Palin, the former Republican vice presidential nominee, invokes the importance of a strong and robust military in speech after speech, while Paul, the libertarian Republican who rocketed to the national scene during the 2008 presidential race, has long argued for drastic cuts in defense spending.
It’s a schism that has long existed within the GOP’s fold – between hawkish conservatives and spend-weary Republicans – but one which the Tea Party movement’s diverse coalition and varied figure heads have specifically laid bare over the past year.
The division is especially apparent this week as Paul, whom many in the Tea Party movement hope mounts another bid for president, is teaming up with Massachusetts Rep. Barney Frank, a Democrat, to call for substantial cuts in U.S. military spending.
But at the same time Paul reiterates his across-the-board fiscal conservatism, Palin is making moves to ensure the Tea Party does not articulate an agenda that includes advocating for military spending cuts, even as the movement’s larger agenda is focused on reigning in government spending.
In a speech before a conservative gathering in Virginia late last month, Palin stressed that while the “Obama-Reid-Pelosi spending machine” must be tempered, spending on the military should remain strong.
On Friday, RNC Chairman Michael Steele made some controversial comments regarding Afghanistan and our continued involvement and occupation of the country:
Republican National Committee chairman Michael Steele suggested at a Connecticut fundraiser that Afghanistan is “a war of Obama’s choosing” despite the fact that it began years before the president took office.
As criticism of his comments grew Friday, Steele issued a statement saying that he supported the U.S. troops, but did not address his factual mistake.
Steele also said of U.S. military involvement in Afghanistan: “This is not something the United States had actively prosecuted or wanted to engage in.”
In the video, he can be heard suggesting that President Obama failed to understand that waging war in Afghanistan has been shown throughout history to be a losing proposition. Steele also suggests America should have a “background” role in the country, “sort of shaping the changes that were necessary in Afghanistan as opposed to directly engaging troops.”
“Well if he’s such a student of history, has he not understood that, you know, that’s the one thing you don’t do is engage in a land war in Afghanistan,” Steele says of the president. “Alright? Because everyone who has tried over a thousand years of history has failed. And there are reasons for that. There are other ways to engage in Afghanistan without committing more troops.”
Steele also described the situation around the resignation of Gen. Stanley McChrystal as “very comical.”
Sounds good to me:
With the oil spill from the Deepwater Horizon now over 60 days old, Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) writes that government is getting in the way of the clean-up:
[A]s usually happens after disasters, countless people – even officials in local and state government – have come forward who know what needs to be done and are willing to help, but have been stymied by federal bureaucratic red tape as the oil continues to gush. The real problem is not so much a lack of government assistance, but government getting in the way of those who have solutions. We witnessed the same phenomenon during hurricanes Katrina and Ike. It seems government’s main role in these situations is to find excuses to stall relief, hold meetings and press conferences, waste money, punish the wrong people, and over-regulate.
Yet even after many examples of past incompetence, people still look to government to solve problems in the wake of disasters. A government that tries to be all things to all people might engender a lot of learned dependence, but ultimately it only harms the very people it is supposed to serve as they wait helplessly for salvation from Washington.
Government could help by holding the appropriate parties fully liable for damages and clean-up costs. I am hopeful that efforts to do this are genuine and BP is indeed held responsible for all damages, not shielded by liability caps or reimbursed under the table by taxpayers. Unfortunately, a large sum of taxpayer money has been slipped into the upcoming supplemental bill for Gulf cleanup costs that should fall on BP. Taxpayers should not have to bail out a major oil company that has caused this horrible damage to our shores.
Some interesting words from the most interesting candidate of 2008:
Ron Paul says he hasn’t decided if he’ll challenge President Obama for re-election in 2012, but he does predict that Republicans will be more open than they were in 2008 to nominating a libertarian-minded candidate.
“I think there’s no doubt about it,” Paul said in an interview with The Daily Caller.
This year, libertarian-Republican candidates for the U.S. Senate — like Paul’s son Rand Paul in Kentucky and Sharron Angle in Nevada — have won Republican primaries with the help of the Tea Party support. Noting the “big libertarian influence in the Tea Party movement,” Paul says libertarian beliefs are making their way into the lexicon of traditional Republicans.
“I think even the issue of the Federal Reserve — that issue is almost mainstream,” he said. “And I think things have shifted because of the financial crisis as well as the bogging down of our foreign policy. So the American people are looking for some different answers.”
Paul, whose anti-Iraq war views won him jeers at some Republican events in 2008, says a libertarian-minded GOP candidate will be better received when Obama runs for re-election. But he cautioned that he himself has not decided to run. “It’s too early for me to talk much about that because I haven’t made a decision. I haven’t ruled it out, but I’m not on the verge of making a decision anytime soon,” Paul said.
Asked to name other potential presidential candidates he could support, Paul replied, “I guess the best one would be Johnson from New Mexico — Gary Johnson.”
From this yesterday’s premier episode of Freedom Watch on Fox Business Channel: