Why Do Common Republicans Love Tax-And-Spend Now? Because Racism! (No, Really!)


Lee Atwater

On Monday, The Hill ran an article about how many prominent Republicans, like Ben Sasse, John Thune, Lisa Murkowski, and John Boehner were confused by the fact that "fiscal conservatism" no longer rocks the Republican base's world like it used to, back in the good old Tea Party days.

Noting that the Republican base is now "more strongly conservative on some of the social issues," which is certainly one way of putting things, Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski asked, "Who is the party of fiscal restraint anymore?"

Senate GOP whip John Thune also had lots to say on the subject, explaining that while it was one thing to stop caring about fiscal responsibility and focus on "cultural issues" while Donald Trump was racking up $8 trillion in national debt, now that Biden is in office, it's time to get back to their anti-spending roots. A thing that absolutely nobody could have seen coming.

Via The Hill:

"It wasn't something that was an important issue for President Trump, and so many of our base voters align themselves with President Trump. It's almost like now debt, deficits, spending become abstract issues that a lot of folks aren't paying attention to and should be," he said.

There was a "political evolution," Thune said, and the fiscal conservatism that was a core tenet of the Tea Party "got displaced ... by the more populist elements" of the Republican Party.

He went on to say that while Trump was able to energize voters by hitting on hot-button cultural topics, such as immigration and border security, it's now time for the GOP to get back to its traditional stance on fiscal issues.

But even though Biden is in office, and even though Republicans probably really hate him, they're not really all that mad about what he is spending money on.

Senior White House adviser Anita Dunn last month circulated a Navigator Research poll showing that 59 percent of Americans support Biden's infrastructure agenda and that 83 percent support his desire to expand access to child care and investments in clean energy infrastructure, which are not highlighted in the alternative GOP proposal.

A Politico-Morning Consult poll from this month showed strong support among Republicans, Democrats and independents for Biden's infrastructure spending priorities, and 65 percent of voters were on board with raising the corporate tax rate to help pay for them. The survey even found that 42 percent of Republicans favored raising taxes on corporations.

This is the kind of thing that would only be surprising to the kind of person who actually believes the Dinesh D'Souza line that the Southern Strategy never happened. It's literally in the Lee Atwater quote about how he used the Southern Strategy to win votes for Nixon.

You start out in 1954 by saying, "Ni***r, ni***r, ni***r." By 1968 you can't say "ni***r"—that hurts you, backfires. So you say stuff like, uh, forced busing, states' rights, and all that stuff, and you're getting so abstract. Now, you're talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you're talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is, blacks get hurt worse than whites.… "We want to cut this," is much more abstract than even the busing thing, uh, and a hell of a lot more abstract than "Ni***r, ni***r."

There is a very simple reason why fiscal conservatism doesn't have the appeal that it used to — because now they don't have to be so abstract. Donald Trump pretty much did away with the necessity of dogwhistles, so what reason would they have to support something that also hurts themselves? Frankly, it's the same deal with war. Republicans liked war because it gave them an enemy, it gave them a group of people they could condemn and feel superior to. They don't really need that anymore either. They are free to openly hate any group of people and it can only help them.

Do these Republicans legitimately think that legions of poor white people were obsessed with the national debt and making sure rich people's taxes stayed low? Really? They believed all these people cared more about things as intangible as the gold standard than they did about feeding their families and having health care? I mean, sure. There was an element of temporarily embarrassed millionaire there, but let's be real — they liked that shit because although it hurt them, they felt like it hurt other people worse. Specifically, it hurt Black people worse. And that allowed them a little "I may be a poor motherfucker, but at least I'm white" comfort.

They essentially voted to give rich people tax breaks in exchange for those rich people protecting their place in the social hierarchy. If they don't need rich people for the latter anymore, they're not going to be that jazzed about the former.

[The Hill]

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Robyn Pennacchia

Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse


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