Sunday, June 21, 2009

Our Economic and Environmental Future According to Republicans and Democrats

Who Is Accepting the Challenges?
Who’s Putting Them Off?

The National Debt

The nearly unanimous Republican position on the growing national debt:
It creates a crushing burden for future generations to manage.

The Democratic position on the national debt, generally:
The cause of the debt is twofold.
• A large portion of the debt is the result of higher and higher interest payments on debt incurred by Republican administrations stretching over 20 years (Reagan, Bush I, Bush II) between 2000 and 2008.
• Debt incurred investing in reconstructing an economy that will grow and generate increased wealth in the future is defensible debt.

Climate Change

The Republican position on climate change, generally:
• Climate change is not scientifically proven.
• Even where there is evidence of climate change some of it will be benign and technologically manageable.
• Proposals to address climate change put too much burden on the private sector. The proposals also punish the United States while growing economies like China and India make things worse.

The Democratic position, generally:
• Some of the effects of climate change are already irreversible. We need to act now before things for future generations get much worse.
• Historically and currently, industrial and transportation policies of the United States have been significantly, if not primarily, responsible for much of the damage done to date. The United States must lead the world in addressing climate change, now.

Tentative Conclusion:

Republican claims about the future of the economy are debatable. Democratic claims are, also, but the notion that debt incurred to invest in the future now will pay off with growth and a larger GDP in the future make sense to me.

But the unwillingness of most Republican officials to concede that climate change is a real and growing threat completely discredits their claim to care about the burdens we are bequeathing to future generations. Democrats may not know quite what to do, but that makes sense in dealing politically with an unprecedented problem. We must act, and if action means a reduced standard of living now in order to preserve a reasonable standard of living in the future, we must accept that as a basis for sound climate change policy. And we should discount both the economic and climate change recommendations of all politicians who rail against "burdening" posterity with monetary debt and, in the next breath, suggest that it's OK to pass along the burdens arising from global warming.


  1. what definition of republican position economy? and what it use in country?

  2. I'm going to assume a couple of things about what issues your questions raise:

    1. What is my source for the observation that "The nearly unanimous Republican position on the growing national debt" is that that it produces no benefit and succeeds only in burdening future generations with our unproductive current spending, and

    2. You are actually asking how this perspective on the debt shape Republican political and legislative strategy?

    The answer to the first question is that I am inferring the overall position from the accumulation of Republican comments and votes on the Wall Street bailout, the stimulus package, health care and the debt, itself.

    The answer to the second question is that Republicans believe that casting Obama and Congressional Democrats as mythological tax-and-spend politicians and not cooperating with any important part of the Obama domestic agenda is a winning political strategy regardless of the social cost of doing nothing on health care and spending too little to rescue and reshape the economy.

    None of the above, incidentally, should be used to conclude that I think all Democratic plans are good ideas. The Wall Street/AIG/bank bailout, for example, was wasteful and rescued too little (and too many undeserving) from the consequences of their private, heedless and anti-social pursuit of exorbitant profit.