A couple of weeks ago, Paul Ryan released his budget plan. The Democrats are going nuts denouncing the plan, culminating last week with the President calling it “Social Darwinism”.
My response to this accusation is, to an extent, “if only”. Ryan’s proposal would still spend enormous amounts of money and make very little dent in Medicare and Social Security spending. It relies on ridiculously optimistic assumptions about Congress’ spending habits and the economy and leaves large portions of the populace untaxed. The tax cuts it includes are unsustainable and it doesn’t cut enough from military and retirement spending. It doesn’t actually specify which tax loopholes it would close to make up for the rate cuts.
But … it’s still more of a plan than any Democrat has put out.
Is the accusation of Social Darwinism accurate? Well, it is true that the plan cuts taxes on the rich and cuts spending on the poor, with 62% of the budget cuts coming from Medicaid, Pell Grants, food stamps, job training and other low-income programs. But to call this Social Darwinism is a bit of an overstatement. The Ryan budget will not leave poor people dying in the streets. And some of the programs — job training, for example — have show little or no ability to actually, you know, help with poverty. In the end, Ryan is constrained by mathematics: the rich pay most of the taxes and a huge amount of spending falls on low-income people. That’s the way the system is built. Never mind that the rich will still be paying most of the taxes and much anti-poverty spending, including all state spending, will be untouched. Any combination of tax and spending cuts, according to the Democrats, will be Social Darwinism. Only tax hikes on the rich aren’t.
This is simply the apotheosis of the “Republican hate poor people” rhetoric we’ve been hearing for thirty years. It’s an attempt, as Althouse points out, to do an end-round of Godwin’s law. Almost all liberal commentary has gleefully recited the sordid history of Social Darwinism (while conveniently ignoring its following among liberal icons like Margaret Sanger). It’s the equivalent of calling someone a socialist and then talking about Hitler because his party has “socialism” in its name.
The thing is, if the GOP believe in social darwinism, they are really bad at it. Study after study has shown that conservatives give far more of their personal income to charity even though, on average, they make less than liberals. They are also more likely to donate blood and do volunteer work. This is at least partially because conservatives are more religious than liberals. But even if you only factor in secular charities, conservatives still give more.
(While researching that last point, I found that the claim that Obama only gives 1% of his money to charity is a myth. It was true a decade ago, when he was making six figures. Since his income exploded to a million or two a year, he’s been more in the 15% range, which is admirable.)
And what’s the alternative that the Democrats propose? A dependency state? A state where the poor — and everyone else — are kept in a state of constant dependency by their benevolent government? A state where the success of corporations and businesses is dependent on their influence in Washington?
Look, Obama is in campaign mode and has been for some time. The entire Democratic Party is. When they were in power, all we heard was how important it was we have a civil discourse. But since they’ve lost the House, they’ve abandoned that in favor the Same Old Shit: Republicans are heartless monsters who hate the poor, women, minorities and Gaia. There’s a War on Women. Ultrasounds are rape. Republicans are Social Darwinists. The Supreme Court are activist thugs. This is just the latest. We’ll hear more as time goes on.
It just shows how quickly they have become bereft of ideas. Four years into the New Age of Obama, they have no ideas, no plans, no solutions. They are already falling back on fear and anger and resentment. They have no plan for balancing the budget; they don’t even have a fucking budget. They have no plan for the economy, other than spending more money on special interests. They have no plan for how to deal with Russia or China. They have no real plan for immigration. They have no plan for what to do if Obamacare is struck down. All they have is resentment.
And … it just might be enough to win this year. Because as much as the GOP is branded as the party of angry white men, no one plays the resentment game as well as the Democrats.