Delving further into Tom Allen’s Dangerous Convictions, Winning Progressive points out four specific examples of how conservatives principles have led to disastrous real world policy consequences:
- The Iraq War
- Health care
- Climate Change
Consider the area of tax policy – conservative principles say “tax cuts pay for themselves” despite significant real world evidence that’s not the case.
While serving on the House Budget Committee, Allen heard that argument often. Republicans argued that despite clear evidence to the contrary. And further evidence that tax cuts do not pay for themselves has emerged since the Bush era, yet in 2011 Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ) said:
My view, and I think most of the people in my party don’t believe that you should ever have to offset a tax cut.
The Iraq War is another key and disturbing example of how Republicans have valued principles over actual real world facts:
Allen was shocked when he learned that the National Security Council never met to discuss the decision to invade Iraq. Instead, President Bush made the decision on his own, with input from Vice President Cheney, based on intelligence reports that, in the words of the Downing Street Memo, “were being fixed around the policy.”
We are familiar with debacle that followed. Republicans were warned and refsued to listen.
Hagel was not alone in arguing for caution. Secretary of State Colin Powell told the president “When you hit [Iraq], it’s like crystal glass. It’s going to shatter. There will be no government. There will be civil disorder.” In Hard Lessons: The Iraq Reconstruction Experience, Special Inspector General Stuart Bowden found the State Department had concluded:
[I]nvading Iraq and replacing its totalitarian regime would require a U.S. commitment of enormous scope, carried out over a period of years, engaging everything from Iraq’s judiciary to its electrical grid.
The Bush administration rejected that view, “convinced that by limiting the military’s post-war role in Iraq, the United States could avoid the ‘culture of dependency’ that had taken root in other post-conflict interventions,” Bowden found.
Iraq was a disaster, one that could have and should have been avoided had the Republican party embraced reality.
More dismaying, for Allen, was Republicans’ refusal to engage the detailed facts about health care policy. He cites this July 2012 Chris Wallace interview with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell on Fox News Sunday. Asked how Republicans would cover the 30 million Americans without health insurance, Sen. McConnell replied “that’s not the issue.” Wallace pressed on:
WALLACE: You don’t think the 30 million people who are uninsured is an issue?
MCCONNELL: Let me tell you what we’re not going to do. We’re not going to turn the American health care system into a western European system.
Never mind that those European nations spend less per capita and get better health care outcomes than the US.
It’s an example of principle over people. The Republicans will destroy the village in the same of saving it.
Finally, climate change:
Simply, Republicans recognize that climate change, if it is real, will require government action. But “more government” means “less freedom,” always, as a matter of principle. Thus, because its only solution would be intolerable, climate change cannot be real – and scientists whose evidence supports it must be attacked as ideologues who want to “impose socialistic, globalist control over nations, businesses, and your lifestyle” – all summarized in Sen. Rubio’s blithe “government can’t control the weather.”
Defining freedom only as freedom from restraint and defining government only as a limiting force, Republicans automatically deny a valid role for government. It flies in the face of centuries of western liberal tradition which says government, simply stated, is and can be a force for good in the world.