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November 21, 2011

Steve Hayward and the Failure of the Reagan Revolution [Domenech]

So Steve Hayward of AEI wrote a piece on Modernizing Conservatism which, at its core, makes the case that the Reagan Revolution failed and the entitlement state is here to stay. Get used to it and start negotiating. An excerpt:

“Which brings us to the third major political fact of our age: the welfare state, or entitlement state, is here to stay. It is a central feature of modernity itself. We are simply not going back to a system of "rugged individualism" in a minimalist "night watchman" state; there is not even a plurality in favor of this position.”

It's already linked on the sidebar, but Ace asked me to share my response to Hayward with you all, which is over at Ricochet.

There is no statesmanly compromise to be made on entitlement reform. The choice has to be made. We will take a path toward top-down bureaucratic rationing or we will empower the consumer to make decisions for themselves. Paul Ryan recognizes that those who see some middle path are crawling off a cliff after a mirage.

Hayward offers nothing here, ultimately, but capitulation, judgment from on high for those who stubbornly refuse to wave the white flag. How infuriating it is when people do not know they are beaten. It is time to cut our losses. It is time to make a deal. It is time to negotiate surrender. Be reasonable. But who is being reasonable here, and who is being delusional?

rdbrewer had a great response via email to one aspect - I give credit to Hayward for not being entirely wrong about the starve-the-beast strategy of the Reagan years being a failure, but my view is that it's a failure because of the lavish overspending of both parties.

"But who was starving the beast? That wasn't a Republican strategy. Reagan's lower taxes caused revenues to skyrocket. But Tip O'Neill spent all of that and more. The beast began to starve because Democrats brought in a bigger beast."

Annotated depiction of total government spending per capita in constant dollars to give you a visual aid.

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posted by Guest Blogger at 02:03 PM

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