By Arnold Kling
Irving Kristol recently wrote a neoconservative manifesto.
It is hopeful, not lugubrious; forward-looking, not nostalgic; and its general tone is cheerful, not grim or dyspeptic. Its 20th-century heroes tend to be TR, FDR, and Ronald Reagan. Such Republican and conservative worthies as Calvin Coolidge, Herbert Hoover, Dwight Eisenhower, and Barry Goldwater are politely overlooked.
In response, I have written a critique of Kristol.
If neocons do nothing about the growth of government spending, then I fear we will eventually follow in Europe’s footsteps. Neocon tax cuts will have to be canceled sooner or later, because of the pressure of Medicare spending. Neoconservatism will degenerate into what Newt Gingrich once disparaged Bob Dole as being — “the tax collector for the welfare state.” There will be no permanent tax cuts other than supply-side reforms that can increase government revenue.
Update: Jerry Taylor and Peter VanDoren also question neoconservative fiscal policy.
Both liberals and conservatives happily and without great argument sign off on the purchase of a $2.3 trillion dollar government (with more spending surely to come). But as a matter of high principle, liberals argue that we should put 11 percent of this year’s tab on the national credit card while conservatives argue on high principle that we should put 17 percent of it on said national credit card.
For Discussion. Kristol argues that economic progress leads people to appreciate markets. I worry that it leads those who stand to be displaced by progress to run to government. Is there evidence that we are seeing a trend toward more support for free markets or more demand for regulation?