Commentary Magazine


Posts For: July 24, 2011

Perry: Gay Marriage in New York is ‘Fine With Me’

Gov. Rick Perry’s credibility on social conservative issues has been under attack from Mike Huckabee recently, so it’s mildly surprising to see him take such a moderate position on gay marriage:

“Our friends in New York six weeks ago passed a statute that said marriage can be between two people of the same sex. And you know what? That’s New York, and that’s their business, and that’s fine with me,” [Perry] said to applause from several hundred GOP donors in Aspen, the AP reported.

“That is their call. If you believe in the 10th Amendment, stay out of their business.”

The most significant part of this story? Perry was applauded by Republican donors for supporting New York’s decision. Add this to Mitt Romney and Tim Pawlenty pointedly refusing to sign an anti-gay-marriage pledge (which was admittedly problematic for other reasons), and it seems like staunch opposition to same-sex marriage may no longer be a requirement for Republican presidential candidates. It was one thing for a moderate New York Republican like Rudy Giuliani to take the states’ rights position in 2008, but there’s a serious transformation in the movement if a socially-conservative Texas governor is now making the same argument.

And the reason is because the issue is becoming less important to the conservative movement as a whole, a shift that’s driven by both cultural changes across the nation and a reemphasis on economic concerns. Perry will alienate some social conservatives with his stance, but the states’ rights argument is very attractive to the other more libertarian segments of the conservative movement.

Interestingly enough, the states’ rights argument isn’t just being used by conservatives. President Obama has also used it to support the decision in New York, while maintaining that he’s still not personally in favor of gay marriage. It’s a simple transition line for Democrats who aren’t yet ready to fully support same-sex marriage, and for Republicans who are no longer comfortable fully opposing it.

Gov. Rick Perry’s credibility on social conservative issues has been under attack from Mike Huckabee recently, so it’s mildly surprising to see him take such a moderate position on gay marriage:

“Our friends in New York six weeks ago passed a statute that said marriage can be between two people of the same sex. And you know what? That’s New York, and that’s their business, and that’s fine with me,” [Perry] said to applause from several hundred GOP donors in Aspen, the AP reported.

“That is their call. If you believe in the 10th Amendment, stay out of their business.”

The most significant part of this story? Perry was applauded by Republican donors for supporting New York’s decision. Add this to Mitt Romney and Tim Pawlenty pointedly refusing to sign an anti-gay-marriage pledge (which was admittedly problematic for other reasons), and it seems like staunch opposition to same-sex marriage may no longer be a requirement for Republican presidential candidates. It was one thing for a moderate New York Republican like Rudy Giuliani to take the states’ rights position in 2008, but there’s a serious transformation in the movement if a socially-conservative Texas governor is now making the same argument.

And the reason is because the issue is becoming less important to the conservative movement as a whole, a shift that’s driven by both cultural changes across the nation and a reemphasis on economic concerns. Perry will alienate some social conservatives with his stance, but the states’ rights argument is very attractive to the other more libertarian segments of the conservative movement.

Interestingly enough, the states’ rights argument isn’t just being used by conservatives. President Obama has also used it to support the decision in New York, while maintaining that he’s still not personally in favor of gay marriage. It’s a simple transition line for Democrats who aren’t yet ready to fully support same-sex marriage, and for Republicans who are no longer comfortable fully opposing it.

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Deconstructing the Deficit

The New York Times this morning had an op-ed piece “deconstructing” “How the Deficit Got This Big.” According to the article, the fault lies (are you sitting down?) with George Bush, not Barack Obama. The article, using Congressional Budget Office figures, scores the cost of the Bush tax cuts at $1.812 trillion, the Iraq and Afghanistan wars plus new defense spending at $1.469 trillion and TARP at $224 billion.

One can argue about whether the defense outlays were necessary, but the other two figures are nonsense. As to TARP, while the Treasury disbursed that amount of money, it received assets–mostly preferred stock and warrants–in exchange. The CBO regarded the subsidy cost of TARP (roughly the difference between the money paid out and the value of the assets received) at about $64 billion as of December 31, 2008. Much of the TARP money has now been repaid, with interest, and the net cost to the Treasury is much, much lower than the original disbursal figure. Charging the gross figure to George Bush’s account is a gross distortion of reality.

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The New York Times this morning had an op-ed piece “deconstructing” “How the Deficit Got This Big.” According to the article, the fault lies (are you sitting down?) with George Bush, not Barack Obama. The article, using Congressional Budget Office figures, scores the cost of the Bush tax cuts at $1.812 trillion, the Iraq and Afghanistan wars plus new defense spending at $1.469 trillion and TARP at $224 billion.

One can argue about whether the defense outlays were necessary, but the other two figures are nonsense. As to TARP, while the Treasury disbursed that amount of money, it received assets–mostly preferred stock and warrants–in exchange. The CBO regarded the subsidy cost of TARP (roughly the difference between the money paid out and the value of the assets received) at about $64 billion as of December 31, 2008. Much of the TARP money has now been repaid, with interest, and the net cost to the Treasury is much, much lower than the original disbursal figure. Charging the gross figure to George Bush’s account is a gross distortion of reality.

And the tax cut figure comes from a static analysis. It is based on the assumption that cutting tax rates has no effect on the economy, and therefore is a pure cost to the government in lost revenue (or, as liberals would have it, a tax giveaway to the rich). But the economy began to accelerate at exactly the moment the tax cuts went fully into effect (not likely to be a coincidence–its happened every time we cut marginal rates) and government deficits declined from $377  billion in 2003 to $162 billion in 2007 (and then rebounded in the economically dreadful year of 2008 to $410 billion). The article essentially argues that  except for those dreadful tax cuts for the rich, the budget in the middle Bush years would have been in splendid surplus. I don’t know anyone who believes that.

And, thanks to the boom, unemployment was reduced in those years by one-third, both swelling tax revenues and shrinking expenditures in unemployment  insurance.

Deconstruction is a philosophical technique coined by the French thinker Jacques Derrida in 1967 that, as far as I can figure out, allows the practitioner to twist words so they mean whatever they find convenient at the moment. Their prose is extraordinarily incomprehensible. (What do you get if you cross a deconstructionist with a Mafioso? You get someone who makes you an offer you can’t understand.) The Times article, at least, is crystal clear in its meaning. Unfortunately, it is crystal clear tendentious twaddle.

 

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