The Republican Party: All Torture & Tax Cuts, All the Time

This tweet by David Waldman got me thinking:

How many years did the GOP spend insisting that torture was necessary for “ticking time bombs”? But suddenly it’s a long-term payoff thing.

The GOP has long been fond of attributing all successes during a Democratic administration on the “groundwork laid” by past Republican administrations; the economic boom of the Clinton years, for example, was attributed to Reagan and to Bush I. Obama overseeing the apprehension of Osama bin Laden is because of George W. Bush (but not Bill Clinton). It’s utterly predictable and mechanistic.

It’s also predictable and mechanistic that the core GOP policy that binds together its coalition is offered as the solution to all economic problems at all times, and whenever anything good happens it’s cited as the causal factor. That policy, of course, is cutting taxes. If we’re in a recession or an economic bubble, if the government is running a surplus or if the government is running a deficit, at all times and to address all problems, Republicans’ solution is to cut taxes. It’s like a doctor who writes the same prescription for every ailment. You have sinusitis? Here’s a prescription for Nansoma. Gaping wound spewing blood? Nansoma. Pancreatic cancer?  Night blindness? Leprosy? Tay Sachs? Eczema, heart disease, pellagra, some disease contracted by nobody except characters on House? Same treatment for everything.

The Republican have mindlessly advocated tax cuts in all situations since the Reagan era. But in the last few years, it appears the GOP is adding another unifying policy to their core platform: torture. And like with their mindless resort to trying to solve every economic problem with tax cuts combined with their mindless retort that tax cuts are the cause of everything good, Republicans advocate torture promiscuously and proclaim it’s success indiscriminately.

Adding torture to a core unifying principle is yet another example of the radicalization of the Republican party over the last few decades, and is much worse than its obsession with taxes. The GOP’s problem with tax cuts isn’t that they don’t work, it’s that they don’t work in all circumstances. A sound approach to economics has governments sometimes choosing to run deficits, other times trying to build up surpluses. But at least tax cuts are sometimes the right policy, so in that aspect of economic policy the GOP isn’t always wrong.

But torture perverts our sense of principles, and it doesn’t work. Indeed, since the apprehension of Osama bin Laden, conservatives are trying to credit torture as the means by which bin Laden was located. As emptywheel demonstrates, the information that led the US to bin Laden wasn’t secured through torture.

For over thirty years the Republican party has used a consistent anti-tax and anti-government rhetoric and policy to hold together it’s disparate base coalition of plutocrats, libertarians, fundamentalists, nativists, low-wage and polluting corporate sectors, free traders and fearful know-nothings. While occasionally appropriate, the use of tax cuts in all situations has meant the heart of Republican ideology was stupid. By now endlessly advocating torture and wrongly proclaiming it’s efficacy and success, Republicans have made their core ideology even stupider, and much more cruel.

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