The Corner

Politics & Policy

Is the GOP Becoming the Pro-Tax-Hike, Anti-Entitlement Reform Party?

Why is everyone so stressed, angry, and exasperated lately? As noted in the midweek Morning Jolt, Trump-mania is single-handedly changing what the GOP stands for.

Come on, America. Come on! This indicates you’re not even paying attention to the questions!

Although most Republicans say they strongly disagree with Democrats on health care, Iran and affirmative action, fewer than a quarter of Republicans strongly disagreed when those positions were presented as Trump’s. Democrats, a majority of whom said they strongly agreed with their party on health care, were less supportive when Trump was the one endorsing the policy.

As you may have sensed, Charlie Cooke is more than a little irked that so many self-identified conservatives don’t actually care whether the nominee has a record of consistent conservatism.

An array of self-described “true conservatives” have put themselves in the awkward position of supposing that an “assault weapons” ban isn’t that big a deal after all. Thus have the pioneers of litmus testing lined up obediently behind a guy whose position on Planned Parenthood is identical to Hillary Clinton’s. Thus have the Scalia-citing “constitutional conservatives” taken to lionizing a man whose primary criticism of the liberty-shredding Kelo v. New London ruling was that it didn’t go far enough. Thus have the screaming eagles of Twitter and beyond taken to contending that the class-conscious tax hikes that the America-hating communist Bernie Sanders proposes are akin to apple-pie-and-motherhood when they’re floated by Donald Trump.

Yeah, we’re the Republicans, and we’re the party that wants to raise your taxes.

In recent weeks, Mr. Trump has threatened to impose tariffs on American companies that put their factories in other countries. He has suggested he would increase taxes on the compensation of hedge fund managers. And he has vowed to change laws that allow American companies to benefit from cheaper tax rates by using mergers to base their operations outside the United States.

Michael Brendan Dougherty makes the argument that the Republican base is now one of the forces defending the status quo on entitlements now:

The party’s base is older white voters who rely on Social Security and Medicare. Many of these people are not in the wealth-creating phase of their lives. According to the elite Republican consensus, they are part of the “47 percent” that Mitt Romney so cavalierly dismissed as takers. But these voters say a cut to their “earned” benefits is an insult to their honor, and their willingness to work hard and play by the rules. We are a long way from the time that George W. Bush claimed a mandate to create privatized Social Security accounts.

If Trump’s poll numbers ride high into Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina, he may prove that perhaps one-third or more of the party’s primary voters are no friends of conservative economic views. He may knock out several of the non-Bush conservatives this way. His duel will show that there are alternative routes to the nomination for men of means. And the aggrieved reaction of party elites to the insult given them by Trump and his voters will also prove toxic in a general election and beyond.

How many Republicans who never stopped supporting tax cuts and entitlement reform will have that Reagan-esque feeling, “I didn’t leave the party, the party left me?”

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