Tuesday, January 26, 2010

A Thoughtful Republican--There Are Some Left

Joe Scarborough. The Last Best Hope: Restoring Conservatism and America’s Promise. New York: Crown Forum, 2009.

The author argues that conservatives should be grounded in realistic solutions which upholding their beliefs in restraining an overreaching government. He is sad to be conservatism as represented by increased militarization, Wall Street-ers without control, and those who insist upon placing ideological litmus tests on determining who is a supportable conservative. Scarborough instead believes conservatism should avoid rigid adherence to ideology and use its principles towards guiding modern issue policies.

Scarborough’s beliefs have libertarian roots on both economic and privacy issues. He urges for less spending on empire building and on government programs. He calls for more attention to economic soundness. He notes that conservatives need to accept Social Security and Medicare and need to concentrate, not on criticizing these programs, but on making these programs more fiscally sound.

Scarborough calls for a foreign policy designed to protect our strategic national interests. Force should be a last resort should when used it should be decisive and we should exit after victory, he argues. Military power should also be aware of our economic limits.

There were $2.1 trillion in mortgage and securities backed by mortgages owned by publicly supported Fannie Mac and Freddie Mac. This grew to $5 trillion by 2008, representing almost half all national mortgages. Meanwhile, banks were leveraging loans to assets at 40 to 1 rates. In 2008, the economy collapsed due to this excessive debt when much of it could not be repaid. Scarborough warns that using $12.8 trillion of Federal government funds to support failing companies only creates more debt.

Scarborough calls for making car batteries more energy efficient. We need to reduce our reliance on oil from governments that oppose our interests. We cannot continue using 25% of the oil worldwide while possessing 3% of proven oil reserves. The US spent $700 billion to import oil in 2008.

Federal government spending is approaching 40% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), an increase from 34.3% ten years ago. In Eurozone nations, national government spending is 48% of their GDP.

The author argues that tax increases slow down economic growth and delay economic recovery. The New Deal, he argues, originally failed to revive the economy as unemployment remained high, around 20%, seven years after it started. He does credit the New Deal for creating safety nets, such as unemployment compensation, Social Security, and deposit insurance, which helped people.

Scarborough notes that Freddie Mac and Fannie Mac executives contributed only to the political campaign of only one U.S. Senator more than they contributed to Senator Obama.

The Obama campaign raised $639 million to win the Presidency. McCain raised a quarter of a million dollars less. Obama spent $30 million more on negative ads than McCain did. 75% of Obama’s funds came from donors who gave $200 or more and almost half gave $1,000 or more. The author opposes limiting campaign spending as it would restrict free speech.

Scarborough warns there are $80 trillion in future entitlement obligations that have no tax credits dedicated towards paying these entitlements. This is six times greater than our entire national economy and 16 times larger than the Federal debt. Scarborough argues these programs are important part of social fabric and that conservative proposals to eliminate them are unrealistic. He argues there should be actions taken to make them economically more stable, such as increasing the age for eligibility, which makes sense since life spans have increased.

The author notes the Democratic Party has been victorious in enough states and DC in each of the last five Presidential elections to guarantee they can win 250 electoral votes and be 22 electoral votes away from winning. McCain lost each of these states and DC by over 10 percentage points.


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