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Hullabaloo


Monday, July 14, 2014

 
Libertarian plutocrats still have to govern. They just don't want to.

by David Atkins

Greg Sargent takes a look at the GOP's infrastructure investment problem and makes a great point. The anti-government GOP still has to perform the basic functions of governance, and that's increasingly a challenge in the extreme Objectivist eddy that calls government spending "dependency spending":

The looming battle over infrastructure — particularly in the short term, over the fate of the Highway Trust Fund — could provide a particularly stark example of GOP anti-government sentiment colliding with reality.

The Highway Trust Fund is expected to go insolvent later this summer, and the White House has warned that such an outcome could stall countless infrastructure projects across the country and cause the loss of hundreds of thousands of jobs.

In general, infrastructure spending is broadly popular, even among Republican voters. But GOP lawmakers have managed to oppose various White House infrastructure spending initiatives by tying them up in disputes over how to pay for them. Yet that could prove tougher to pull off in the case of the Highway Trust Fund, because there could be numerous examples of projects grinding to a halt in GOP districts.

...

It’s easy for a far right candidate like David Brat (who overthrew Eric Cantor) to throw around anti-government bluster about how he’s going to jail crony capitalists. It’s also not all that hard for Republican lawmakers to attack the Export-Import Bank as improper government meddling in the economy, since few voters know or care about it. But the battle over infrastructure spending could pose a much tougher test when it comes to the limits of GOP anti-government rhetoric.
It's just another reminder that Republicans aren't really "conservative" anymore. These are radical economic libertarian ideologues as wild-eyed and unrealistic about human nature and economics as any Bolshevik. What they want is a society that has never existed before in modern history, testing an already-discredited economic theory that has never been pursued to its full extent because it's too demonstrably crazy, with social order enforced by a code of morality and institutional hierarchy most voters have already rejected.

That's why American politics is so impossible right now. These are not traditional disagreements over this program or that, or the size and scope of this effort or that one. Modern Republicans aren't conservatives so much as revolutionary revanchists, seeking to "take back their country" by creating a libertarian economic utopia such as has never existed (nor, due to its internal unworkability, will it ever exist) in the world. The left can point to other countries that work reasonably well along the lines we would prefer: we can point to Canada, Germany, Sweden and many other countries besides whose solutions to vexing American policy problems have worked out substantially well for them. Republicans cannot point to similar examples because they do not exist.

That can be an admirable thing if you're trying to found the world's first modern democracy. It's not so admirable if you're trying to found the world's first libertarian plutocracy. But either way, it's not conservative. And the left can't just come to "bipartisan agreement" with that sort of thing.


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