The GOP’s Plan for Economic Recovery: Do Nothing

November 8th, 2010 at 11:36 am David Frum | 24 Comments |

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Let’s stop and absorb the full meaning of Paul Ryan’s negative comments about the Fed’s plan to create $600 billion more money.

Republicans are agreed in opposing more fiscal stimulus.

Now the leading intellectual in the new House majority has declared his opposition to monetary stimulus.

So what do we do?

Austerity? Budget cutting? But John Boehner says that one of his top agenda items is to force a vote to restore $500 billion in Medicare “cuts” (what Republicans used to call restraints on future growth). So we’re not doing austerity either.

Things will get better on their own eventually I suppose … but eventually feels a lot longer if you are one of the unemployed. Of course the changeover in Congress means a big reduction in unemployment among Washington Republicans, now that K Street is hiring them again.

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24 Comments so far ↓

  • StevenDS

    It’s all about priorities. This round of QE is going to (hopefully) help with unemployment and our trade balance, at the risk of inflation. So (theoretically) it should help the unemployed, those industries and workers who wish to export, and debtors. It may hurt those who have a lot of cash, or who are creditors.

    Ryan’s top priority is to keep “The Rich” rich. So of course he is against this, even if it helps the unemployed or the lower middle class.

    Boehner’s top priority is to get and keep republicans in elected office. So of course he wants to pander to seniors by “restoring” medicare cuts.

  • PracticalGirl


    While I might agree with your headline, I completely reject this:

    “Republicans are agreed in opposing more fiscal stimulus.”

    Continuing to borrow money to fund tax cuts for all (or any) Americans is a stimulus-based program, yes?

  • medinnus

    Lets wait until the GOP actually does (or refrains from doing) something before we condemn.

  • armstp

    Where are the jobs, jobs, jobs John Boehner ?

  • TerryF98

    Yep, you would think after a week that they would have laid out a grand plan to save the millions of jobs they were carping about for 2 years. Where is it? Nothing except tax cuts for the rich and add more to the deficit via gutting the cuts Obama made in the HC bill. Unbelievable.

    GOP voters are suckered time after time, how does it feel suckers.

  • easton

    Wouldn’t it have been nice though if their rhetoric matches reality?

    I don’t know if anyone actually has the answer of how to restore the Middle Class in America, taxing the rich will only get you so far (although it will get you part of the way). As an investor I am only concerned about profits, and since I don’t care how they are earned I am perfectly happy with outsourcing, and since my job is not affected by outsourcing I have no particular reason to care, and the net result is that some Chinese and Indians will get richer, a lot of Americans poorer.
    As a private citizen I am entitled to this selfish attitude though it is against the best interests of the country. I simply don’t understand why the Republican party is so willing to hang the middle class.

  • PracticalGirl


    Actually, the GOP has been saying they have a superior plan for jobs creation for over a year now. So YES. I fully expected to hear about it this week. :) Instead, they’re getting ready to remodel the House rules and crew up health care. So very GOPer…

  • Rob_654

    Do nothing? I am sure that they will propose tax cuts. Don’t tax cuts fix everything under the sun?

  • Carney

    “If you see ten troubles coming down the road, you can be sure that nine will run into the ditch before they reach you. ” – Calvin Coolidge

    “Don’t just do something! Stand there!” – various

  • Xunzi Washington

    “If you see ten troubles coming down the road, you can be sure that nine will run into the ditch before they reach you. ” – Calvin Coolidge and “Don’t just do something! Stand there!” – various

    Oh boy – I would love it if the Republicans actually went to TV and admitted that this was their new governing philosophy.

  • Franco

    Hey where is the “give the new guy a chance” stuff Frum was so good at when Obama came into office?

    Mr. Frum, you need to learn how to be civil and graceful in defeat. Sniping at the sidelines is unbecoming a thoughtful wonk like yourself. Learn to compromise and don’t forget to give the other side the benefit of the doubt.

  • Xunzi Washington

    “Hey where is the “give the new guy a chance” stuff Frum was so good at when Obama came into office?”

    Well, wait. If the Republicans have campaigned on ending “big government spending” and “government run health care” but yet Boehner says a *top* agenda items is to *restore* $500 billion in Medicare cuts, it seems pretty clear that he ain’t doing what he said he was going to do.

  • trk113

    Some GOP solutions…
    -Cut taxes…of course, solves everything. The wealthy need incentive or they won’t invest. We have given the wealthy an unprecedented level of tax breaks since 1980 and the only time the middle class in all that time was when Bill Clinton was in office and raised their taxes. Simplistic, perhaps. But, is it really just a coincidence?
    -Deregulate business…Fantastic idea. Before we regulated Wall St, we had regular panics which finally brought us the Big Kahuna, the Great Depression. FDR Era regulation largely prevented the worst of these swings. We rolled back controls like Glass Steagel and here we are again, in no time. But, the political rhetoric is that it is GOVERNMENT that can’t be trusted and that it is BIG BUSINESS that best knows how to run their affairs most efficiently.
    -Payroll Tax Holiday…AKA, let’s kill Social Security once and for all. Make no mistake about it, if they do this, even for one month, it will destroy Social Security because that tax will never be reimplemented.

  • kman

    I think Mike Pense summed up the GOP approach well on Sunday’s “This Week”…

    A lot of prayerful deliberation… followed by cuts to education, federal employees, entitlements (but only to people under 40), and no tax increases to anyone, especially “job creators” (ie. the rich hedge fund guys.)

    Its a good time to be rich, over 40, and have your kids in private school.
    I wonder how many people who voted GOP fit this profile?

  • FosterBoondoggle

    David, are you sure you’re a republican?!? You seem upset about the blatant cynical hypocrisy of the GOP’s leaders. But that’s been the party’s MO for a generation: talk about the importance of sobriety, restraint, etc., etc., (though, oddly, never small-c conservatism), all the while engaging recklessly with the economy and the world.

    Why would you think this time would be any different?

  • LauraNo

    FosterBoondoggle asks the question we should be hearing the media asking.

  • anniemargret

    easton: ‘I simply don’t understand why the Republican party is so willing to hang the middle class.’

    And why anyone from the middle class is so willing to hang onto Republicans, other than the abortion issue? Seems they keep shooting themselves in the foot.

  • armstp

    David Frum and others on this blog,

    Maybe you can help me. I have been giving this a lot of thought for a very long time.

    What I do not understand is why the Republicans/the right/conservatives seemed to have changed their views on so many different issues and why the zero compromises and the total unwillingness to work with the other side?

    That is not the history at all. Healthcare, the environment, cap and trade, immigration, etc. were all issues that were either close to Republican ideas or at least the Republicans should be able to compromise and work to find solutions. The history has also been that Republicans have been willing to work the Democrats in the past. It cannot be that the Dems have turned so far to the left that the right does not find it at all possible to work with the Dems. That cannot be the excuse, as many of these ideas, cap n trade (market based approach to putting a price on population, originally supported by many conservatives), healthcare (originally the Romney/Dole plan), immigration reform (originally proposed by Bush and supported by McCain and even regain had similar thoughts), were Republican ideas, but now that the Dems use the same ideas and the Republicans are against them. Even the TARP was originally Republican and many conservatives supported the idea of a spending stimulus. Why have they gone backwards on climate change? etc. etc. etc.

    It seems to me that what the Republican party/right/conservatives are only doing is that they reject absolutely anything suggested by the Dems, even if it is their own Republican ideas or makes complete logical and intelligent sense.

    The question is why? I just do not get it. What has exactly changed? I could understand it if the Republicans had say other different ideas (other than their own original ideas the the Dems are using) that were better, but the Republicans do not present any alternative ideas.

    The Republicans just seem to be against things for the sake of being against things?

    Am I missing something? It makes no logical sense.

  • Valea

    Normally I tend to stay away from websites like this, especially the comments section. But I feel I need to congratulate Mr. Frum on his efforts. Although I often find myself in disagreement with his political viewpoints, I must applaud Mr. Frum for presenting his ideals in a rational, realistic, and well thought out manner. Far too often are bare policies obfuscated by mudslinging and question dodging, it is so refreshing to see a website like this where I can learn about conservative principles without trudging through a broth of misleading soundbites and over-the-top bias.

    In all seriousness, it restores my faith in this country that some people are able to criticize without smearing their opposition. Although I may not be a conservative, I harbor more respect for Mr. Frum than any liberal politician or pundit who would rather paint their opposition as villains, rather than put forth rational criticism.

    It is all to easy to fall prey to the unproductive and low-brow political tactics so commonly used in the main stream media, and it is all to easy to become entrenched in one’s own viewpoints when you are convinced that everyone who disagrees with you is out to destroy the country. I applaud Mr. Frum for being above such nonsense, especially in an political climate where rationality seems out of fashion.

    Thank you Mr. Frum, I wish you the best in your efforts.

  • drdredel


    Very interesting question. One idea may be that Republicans (the non fundamentalist ones) are suddenly finding themselves, more or less, agreeing with everything the Democrats are doing. Certainly there are degrees of difference, but on the whole, there’s basically one agenda and everyone is, more or less, on board with it. So, that leaves them nothing to “oppose” (if they’re the opposition). All they can do is just say “no”, cause if they say yes, it will cost them their identity. Who was it that said “if the choice is between a Democrat and a Democrat, you may as well vote for the Democrat.” ?

    I’m just brainstorming with you :)

  • pnumi2


    I have thought about that very topic and this is the best I can come up with. Thirty, thirty-five years ago I read in the papers or heard on t.v. that by a certain date in the 21st century, the Latinos would overtake the Whites and become the largest ethnic group in America, perhaps even a majority.

    This would have been in 1975, 1980 and perhaps this is just a coincidence (tin foil hat time) that’s when Ronald Reagan came to the presidency and brought Laffer and Norquist with him. “Deficits Don’t Matter” and “Starve The Beast” ruled.

    Whether or not this was a cover for the plundering of the Treasury I can’t say. Deficits became acceptable and the national debt began to climb.

    The Democrats went from being the party opposite to being crooks and thieves. Barney Frank was called Barney Fag from the floor of the House. It was the Republicans that started the rumor about Tom Foley being gay, which cost him his seat and the Speakership.

    If Lincoln was right about a ‘house divided” not being able to stand, what would he think about our future today? The icing on America’s cake is the economic situation we’re staring at and the dearth of solutions we have to choose from.

  • armstp


    I agree that as the Dems have adopted many Republican ideas on cap n trade, immigration, healthcare etc. the Republicans have had to carve out a different identity by being against these ideas. That may be part of the answer, but why not just work out solutions based on these ideas to make the country better. Why not compromise on these ideas that were largely their own ideas. Market based ideas for healthcare and the environment. Christ you would think the Repubs would be all over this, as it shure beats single-payer and straight regulation or a ban on polluting.

    Maybe the Dems made the mistake of adopting these Repub ideas forcing the Repub to tact further right?

    I am wondering if there are other things at play here though. Karl Rove’s constant campaign, a massive reaction to Bush, etc. etc. Corporate interests (say Murdoch) that are pushing the party further to the right. etc. etc..

    You cannot say the same thing about the Democrats. If anything they have moved to the right by adopting market approaches to everything (cap n trade and healthcare) and with their foreign policy. You do not even here the Dems say anything about guns or abortion these days, even though many Repub were running on a no abortion whatsoever platform.

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  • SpartacusIsNotDead

    drdredel, I didn’t get back to you on the other thread on tort reform, but I wanted to thank you for a thoughtful discussion.