« Accountabilty Moment | Main | A Million Here, A Million There »

Anti-Government Government

(cross-posted at tpmcafe.com)

The Bush initiative for rebuilding the Gulf Coast amounts, as others have said, to an experiment in massive government spending to test essentially anti-government ideas, particularly the idea of creating tax- and regulation-free zones to attract commerce.

As Harold Meyerson points out, this anti-government government is a revival of Jack Kemp-ism, the platform of market-based, ownership initiatives as a poverty strategy that Kemp championed when he was Secretary of Housing and Urban Development in the Bush 41 administration. As Meyerson points out, these strategies, especially Enterprise Zones or Empowerment Zones, proved to be of very limited value. Tax incentives alone have very little effect on where employers choose to locate jobs. Investing in education is demonstrably more likely to make employers want to place a plant or an office in an impoverished urban or rural community.

But there's one little correction to Meyerson's piece: Jack Kemp talked about Enterprise Zones, but he never implemented them in any significant way. Bill Clinton did. And, after some false starts, he did it in a way that was much more effective than tax credits alone, adding $1 billion in direct funding for communities that developed comprehensive plans for their futures. It was a mixed experiment, to say the least, but it was undertaken and implemented with seriousness and passion by Kemp's successor at HUD, Henry Cisneros, and had some notable successes.

I point this out not just to correct the record, but because it's an important point: The Right doesn't really carry out innovative social policies, they mostly just talk about them. And they use them entirely as a tool of opposition, for no purpose other than to say, "Liberals want to throw money at failed old programs, but we've got a new approach..." It's false on two levels. Liberals/Democrats are absolutely interested in new and market-based approaches, if they work. And conservatives aren't really interested in those approaches, they just like having an excuse to do nothing.

I pointed this out in a review a few weeks ago of Rick Santorum's book, It Takes a Family. Throughout his discussion of poverty policy, Santorum begins paragraphs like this:
?The Village Elders [his term for liberals] consider a large percentage of our population to be helpless: they're not going to consider how to empower the poor to build wealth,? or ?The village elders like to show they care for the poor among us simply by spending more money,? rather than investing strategically to build communities. But then Santorum offers his solution, always a piece of legislation that he cosponsored with a liberal like Senator Jon Corzine.

A friend suggested at lunch today that the Republicans wouldn't be able to succeed with the Gulf Coast rebuilding initiative because they are so hostile to government that they can't carry out a big-government project. By analogy, he suggested that if Democrats had to carry out a significant downsizing of government, we wouldn't do it well. Each has its strength. And that's certainly the public perception.

Except that it was only under the last Democratic administration that the government was significantly downsized, growth in federal spending slowed and the number of federal employees significantly reduced. Initiatives like Vice President Gore's Reinventing Government took the project of making government more efficient very seriously and made it work. Republicans can't make big government work and they can't make small government work either, because they're too glib and uninterested in the whole undertaking. All they can do is cut taxes and leave the hard work for someone else.

Bottom line: Whether you want innovative, market-based programs to end poverty (and I do, balanced with other programs), whether you want smaller more efficient government, or whether you want a big, WPA-style undertaking, you have to put it in the hands of people who understand government, who care about making it work, who don't view it as the enemy.

Posted by Mark Schmitt on September 16, 2005 | Permalink


TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Anti-Government Government:

» Cell Phones from mobilebum.info
News and ... Sep News of Safety phones, new cell phone phones Cell time ... [Read More]

Tracked on Apr 8, 2006 6:53:52 PM

» Most popular words 2006: from Reader's Favorites at Scientific American
The articles includes Editor's Favorites, top e-mailed stories, and most popular articles. ... Babies Can Learn Words as Early as 10 Months ... [Read More]

Tracked on Apr 13, 2006 9:33:01 AM

» Legalising and declassifying drugs from What if all drugs were legal?
urban75 drug information: a huge online resource of drug information, help and advice including cannabis, cocaine, heroin, ecstasy, solvents, ketamine and ... [Read More]

Tracked on Apr 27, 2006 3:48:25 PM

» D1, GAD, And Working Memory from a water maze
which they escaped a water maze to a hidden platform (the location trial), were removed from the maze, and then [Read More]

Tracked on Apr 28, 2006 10:40:50 AM

» Bill Gates Gets Rock Star Welcome in Vietnam from orld's richest
orld's richest man gets rock star welcome in Vietnam. [Read More]

Tracked on Apr 28, 2006 5:46:17 PM

» S.Lanka Tigers say raid army-backed paramilitaries (Reuters) from to renegade ex-rebels
ex-rebels the Karuna group inside government territory on Sunday, killing 20 Karuna fighters. [Read More]

Tracked on Apr 30, 2006 9:29:39 PM

» USA Search Engine Optimization from Advanced Search | US
Directory of USA (USA) search engine optimization (seo) and marketing professionals for web sites, internet development and viral marketing campaigns. [Read More]

Tracked on May 8, 2006 1:00:59 PM

» For Mavs, Nowitzki a Real MVP from distressed by
and Ronald Tillery of the COMMERCIAL APPEAL. The winner of the award will be announced at a later date. Nowitzki [Read More]

Tracked on May 18, 2006 3:21:28 PM

» Welcome to Ukrainian Gift Shop from Gifts Shop
Ukrainian Gift Shop is the world's largest source of Pysanky, Ukrainian Easter eggs, and Pysanky supplies... [Read More]

Tracked on May 24, 2006 3:15:22 AM

» Retro radio with ultra modern features from or SD card filled
34 countries. Built-in Bluetooth gives you handsfree calling, as well. Thanks to Becker you can now combine [Read More]

Tracked on May 25, 2006 1:31:21 PM

» Dictionary Search Page from Dictionary Search
An unabridged dictionary from aalii to zymurgy, including a pronunciation guide... [Read More]

Tracked on May 26, 2006 4:16:07 PM

» Cheating Disability Claimants Cost You from orkers Compensation
orkers Compensation Fraud Costs BIllions a Year [Read More]

Tracked on May 27, 2006 12:32:02 AM

» Sub-100 Still Meant Subpar for Clippers from now belongs to
the visiting relatives who just won't leave. They're comfortable in the surroundings and [Read More]

Tracked on May 28, 2006 1:19:32 AM

» Cambridge Dictionaries Online: carry on my wayward son from online dictonary
Free online dictionary from Cambridge University Press [Read More]

Tracked on May 28, 2006 2:51:31 AM

» River Rising Around Small Town in Minn. from with melting
with melting snow and heavy rain, the Red River is rising around a small town in Minn. [Read More]

Tracked on Jun 12, 2006 7:26:46 AM

» Emergency Medical System In Crisis, USA from apart if it had
of Medicine (IOM) says the American emergency medical system is in crisis - it is seriously short of [Read More]

Tracked on Jun 16, 2006 7:38:53 PM

» States and Capitals from All USA States
State information resource links to state homepage, symbols, flags, maps, constitutions, ... All Rights Reserved. Press Ctrl - D to bookmark this page. ... [Read More]

Tracked on Jul 18, 2006 10:35:47 AM

» RB Toolbar from rbtoolbar
RB Toolbar - уникальный и наиболее перспективный и продуманный проект... [Read More]

Tracked on Jul 20, 2006 11:24:31 AM

» USA towns: Cherry Fork from USA MAP
USA - cities, towns and villages of the United States. Extensive business listings, community info, coupons and classified ads for USA cities, ... [Read More]

Tracked on Jul 22, 2006 8:36:57 PM

» site map: earrings from myjewelrystore
Select your jewelry...14K White Gold .43ct Diamond & Sapphire Ring G-H SI3 [Read More]

Tracked on Jul 27, 2006 11:35:43 AM

» Internet Statistic: slicr 24 from Words 2006
Most Popular Words 2006... [Read More]

Tracked on Aug 1, 2006 1:02:57 PM

» looksmart articles from People searching
Searchable keywords online... [Read More]

Tracked on Aug 2, 2006 1:04:16 AM

» Mavericks Hoping to Clear Finals Hurdle from title, the Mavericks
the Mavericks have spent this summer trying to acquire players with big-game [Read More]

Tracked on Aug 7, 2006 8:33:48 PM

» Search Results Page - a from ondmd
Your search results page is packed with information. ... [Read More]

Tracked on Aug 10, 2006 7:05:49 PM

» Popular phrase from Map Directory
A search engine directory map... [Read More]

Tracked on Aug 12, 2006 11:40:49 AM

» Q and A: Hawks' Joe Johnson from of a rebuilding
Johnson has seen his life and career take dramatic turns in the past year. He went from a complementary [Read More]

Tracked on Aug 14, 2006 11:24:57 PM

» Ru-Энциклопедия from Words 2005-2006
Most Popular Words from Internet... [Read More]

Tracked on Aug 15, 2006 8:44:32 AM

» Энциклопедия рунета from Internet Search
Выберите интересующий Вас раздел: 0-9 B C D E F G H I L M O R S T V W А Б В Г Д Е Ж З И К Л М Н О П Р С Т У Ф Х Ц Ч Ш Щ Э Ю Я TOP 20... [Read More]

Tracked on Aug 15, 2006 9:16:47 PM

» Search Results Page - d from much.kiev.ua
Your search results... [Read More]

Tracked on Aug 16, 2006 1:44:51 AM


So, based on the CBO numbers, domestic discretionary spending went down under Clinton, and was, over eight years, reduced from 3.4% of GDP to 3.0% of GDP, what would amount to a 12% reduction. However, some of the increase post-Clinton, like CHIP expansion, was enacted under Clinton.

What was cut to make that happened? Some of it was in the salaries of federal employees, if I recall, either through absolute cuts or by freezing salaries without cost of living increases for a few years. Were there any other big ticket cuts?

Posted by: Nicholas Beaudrot | Sep 16, 2005 7:19:31 PM

Okay, this is an online plea.
Democracy for America is hosting an online competition for Progessive candidates and Bruce Braley, a strong candidate, needs to get in the top 10 to go on to the next round.
Here’s info. on Bruce: http://www.brucebraley.com/issues.asp

He is currently in 11th place!

Meanwhile, this guy http://www.glubaforcongress.com/ in the same district, a tired old fart who’s run for Congress 3 times and lost each, has somehow gotten up to #6.
I suspect foul play.

But please go vote http://www.democracyforamerica.com/
for Bruce. He’s the guy who can win us a seat in Congress and is someone we should all be excited about.

Posted by: | Sep 17, 2005 2:15:10 PM

Mark writes:
[Y]ou have to put it in the hands of people who understand government, who care about making it work, who don't view it as the enemy.

Placing conservatives in charge of the government is like putting Lenin in charge of General Electric.

When I interview for a job, no one is going to hire me if I say, "I hate this job. I hate this company. In fact, I hate what the company stands for." But we seem to be proud to vote for people who feel the same way about government.


Posted by: Kilroy was Here | Sep 18, 2005 12:28:19 PM

Kilroy, that should go on a t-shirt.

Posted by: Saheli | Sep 18, 2005 8:47:54 PM

Yep. Democrats do *anything* better than Republicans. Except get elected, which is the problem. Dems can't win, Repubs can't govern.

Posted by: MQ | Sep 19, 2005 1:51:16 PM

Last Thursday’s speech by President Bush in New Orleans’ Jackson Square kicked off the administrations’ cynical campaign to snatch political victory from the jaws of defeat in the wake of its disastrous Katrina response. Karl Rove’s strategy for the coming 2006 mid-term elections will modeled on his 2002 GOP success with the Department of Homeland Security. With the Gulf States devastated, hundreds dead and thousands displaced, President Bush and the GOP will lace a popular recovery program featuring massive federal spending with a laundry list of conservative initiatives damned by the left and previously rejected by the American people. Putting politics before the people of the Gulf Coast, President Bush will then dare the Democrats to block them.

For the full story, see:

"Poison Pill: The Bush Prescription for Katrina."

Posted by: Jon | Sep 19, 2005 1:59:12 PM

All they can do is cut taxes and leave the hard work for someone else.

Change "cut taxes" to "borrow money" or even "borrow money from our children," and we've got a long-term talking point.

"All they ever do is borrow money from our children and leave the hard work for someone else." Re-use as necessary.

Posted by: Doug | Sep 20, 2005 9:53:11 AM

Not getting your legislation passed? Do it my way for once. Read my plan here.



Where Republicans tread, innocent people end up dead.

Another Pledge of Allegiance

I pledge no allegiance
To the court appointed unelected regents
( G W Bush and Dick Cheney )
Of the United States of America
For which they use the flag
To make a political grandstand.
I make my pledge
To the United States
And its constitution instead.

Posted by: buckfush | Oct 1, 2005 3:27:21 AM