More Pale Pastels at GOP Debate

Tuesday, January 24th, 2012 and is filed under Blog

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Throughout most of the GOP presidential primary, the frontrunner was Mitt Romney, a man who has been a social liberal and fiscal moderate for almost his entire life.  Worse, we were on the precipice of nominating a candidate who was the impetus for market-distorting government-run healthcare. How Orwellian that the presumptive leader of the opposition party during an election over government-run healthcare would be the first governor to implement it!

Now, with Newt Gingrich’s overwhelming victory in South Carolina, we have a “conservative alternative” to Romney.  Or do we?

During last night’s NBC debate, which was largely devoid of substance, even our “conservative alternative” was blurring the differences between the parties.  The entire first segment was devoted to Newt’s passionate defense of his years spent lobbying at Freddie Mac – the officious government housing enterprise that was responsible for the destruction of the free-market in the housing sector.

After three years of pounding Democrats for their role in Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, we are now running a candidate who was part and parcel of the problem.  We are running a candidate who has not internalized the lessons of government interventions in the housing market and who thinks that Freddie Mac has done a lot of good.  It was precisely this rationale (“everyone should have a house”) that got us into the mess; it is precisely this sort of thinking that will prevent the market from stabilizing.

In other great hits during the debate, Newt went on to defend other government distortions in the free-market, such as subsidies for ethanol and sugar farmers.  The sugar program that Newt was referring to is rife with marketing allotments, price supports, purchase guarantees, quotas and tariffs.  It costs $1.75 billion a year.  However, worse than its cost to the federal treasury is its cost to the American consumer.  In an effort to promote a few well connected farmers, the government has distorted the market and artificially raised the cost of many food products for all Americans.  After all, almost all food contains sugar.

The sugar program embodies the very crony capitalism and the very regressiveness of progressive policies – ones that we have railed against for three years.  Do we really want to nominate a cheerleader for anti-free-market policies?

Then there’s Medicare Part D.  This was yet another government intervention supported by big-government Republicans.  Its projected cost will exceed $1 trillion over the next 8 years, yet Mr. Gingrich doubled down on his support for the program.  The prescription drug program has distorted the market to the degree that it now engenders a need for government subsidies.  When the government pays $100 for a drug that can be purchased at Walmart for $10, prices will become artificially inflated.  That’s why drugs have become so unaffordable.

What do all these debate issues have in common?  They all represent positions that Gingrich continues to hold – positions that are an anathema to free-market conservatism.  We have a candidate who supports government intervention in housing, food, energy, and healthcare.  Those sectors represent the lion’s share of our economy, yet our Republican frontrunner has no qualms about intervening in them. And he is supposedly the more conservative of the two leading candidates!

It’s a shame that we are opting for pale pastels when we could stand for bold colors.

The prospect of nominating a big-government Republican should motivate us to work assiduously on congressional campaigns of constitutional conservatives.  It is our commitment at The Madison Project to continue promoting House and Senate candidates who share our values.  They will serve on the front lines against big government policies – irrespective of who occupies the Oval Office in 2013.