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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Barone’s Bargain Basement for “Ideas”

Now and then it occurs to Republicans that there are limits to what a “Party of No” message can achieve for them in 2010 and 2012. It’s entertaining to watch them furrow brows and try to come up with a “positive agenda” that’s not a rehash of “ideas” from the past forty years.
Today conservative columnist Michael Barone takes on the “positive agenda” challenge, and it’s sadly hilarious to watch. After wandering around for several hundred words and then discovering economic inequality, Barone allows as how private school vouchers might be a good idea, or maybe larger tax deductions for having kids. And oh, yeah, why not limit immigration to people with high skills? That’s a really new idea, right?
Now to be fair, there are plenty of conservative policy ideas kicking around, from invading Yemen, to privatizing Medicare and Medicaid, to radically restricting not only the right to choose abortion, but the right to choose divorce. They just aren’t very popular ideas. And on big, vague themes like “fiscal discipline,” it’s becoming harder for Republicans to simultaneously shriek about the budget deficits they were defending two years ago, and the new tax cuts that are their default-drive policy approach for every conceivable domestic problem.
At a time when sizable majorities of Americans are pretty unhappy with conditions in general, maybe Party of No is as good as it gets for the GOP. If they have to resort to Barone’s Bargain Basement for Ideas, then ideas really don’t matter after all.

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