9 Policies Conservatives Were For Long Before They Were Against Them
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In 2001, the GOP's budget guru, Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin, was excited for the opportunity to vote for Bush's "temporary" tax cuts. "I think we ought to have this income tax cut fast ... to make sure we get a good punch into the economy, juice the economy to make sure that we can avoid a hard landing," he said at a committee hearing. "The economy has soured," he continued. "And it is my concern that if we keep waiting and seeing we won't give the economy the boost it needs right now."
Fast forward 10 years, to this August. President Obama was poised to call for an extension of a payroll tax break -- and an additional break for businesses -- and Ryan began singing a very different tune. "Those things are all temporary," he told Fox News. "They are demand-sided. And they are proven not to work and they still facilitate uncertainty for businesses." Suddenly, tax cuts -- the GOP's answer to every economic issue of the past four decades -- were "proven not to work."
"What's plaguing our economy today," he said, is "the amount of uncertainty as to what the future holds for them on regulations, on taxes, on interest rates and all of those things." He said that the temporary nature of the cuts "exactly exacerbates those problems."
Obama had made a point of the fact that the proposals contained in his jobs package had all been embraced by Republicans in the past, but that didn't prevent them from bashing it, just as they had decried many other erstwhile conservative ideas as so much misguided "socialism" when proposed by Democrats.
Before the memory-hole swallows them up, consider nine other ideas that Republicans had long championed, and were then picked up by Democrats and became toxic within the GOP caucus. They tell us not only how serious Republicans are about undermining the administration, but also how far both parties have lurched to the right -- the Democrats are offering inherently conservative proposals to deal with the problems we face, and today's Right considers those policies to be way out in left field.
1. The Health-Care Mandate
Late last year, when a federal judge ruled against the mandate ( two other courts disagreed, and the Supreme Court will end up deciding the question), Senator Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, rejoiced. "Today is a great day for liberty," he said. "Congress must obey the Constitution rather than make it up as we go along." It was an odd testament to freedom, given that Hatch himself co-sponsored a health-care reform bill built around an individual mandate in the late 1990s.
Journalist Steve Benen noted that while "the record here may be inconvenient for the right ... it's also unambiguous: the mandate Republicans currently hate was their idea."
It was championed by the Heritage Foundation ... Nixon embraced it in the 1970s, and George H.W. Bush kept it going in the 1980s. For years, it was touted by the likes of John McCain, Mitt Romney, Scott Brown, Chuck Grassley, Bob Bennett, Tommy Thompson, Lamar Alexander, Lindsey Graham, John Thune, Judd Gregg, and many other ... notable GOP officials.
According to NPR, the mandate was the Right's response to progressive proposals to establish a single-payer system. Mark Pauly, the conservative economist widely credited with the idea, explained that "a group of economists and health policy people, market-oriented, sat down and said, 'Let's see if we can come up with a health reform proposal that would preserve a role for markets but would also achieve universal coverage.'"