Deficit Reduction Politics
By Arnold Kling
The party base has significantly more leverage over elected officials in the Republican than the Democratic party. The chance of being successfully “primaried” if you are a Democrat is low, and in any case there is not the kind of organized, mass base that is capable of exercising discipline over those who carry the party label. So assuming that Democratic elected officials think that it is important to engage in a cross-party conspiracy for deficit reduction, they will generally be able to get away with it (even if it means imposing uncomfortable changes, up to a point, on their base). That, therefore, narrows the question to whether Republican elected officials believe they can get away with entering into negotiations
Pointer from Tyler Cowen.
Steve is an expert on politics, and I am not. But I wonder if his analysis takes into account labor unions. If labor unions are strongly opposed to a policy, can Democrats support it and survive? I know that here in Montgomery County, Maryland, folks have been “primaried” for failing to toe the teachers’ union line.
At lunch yesterday, I offered my view that it is in President Obama’s interest to endorse the Bowles-Simpson proposal on deficit reduction. My lunch companion disagreed, because some of the elements in the proposal are anathema to labor.
Getting rid of the health care deduction would be unacceptable to labor, for example. Note, however, that in the Bowles-Simpson formulation, getting rid of deductions is an “option.” The President could endorse keeping the deduction and having higher tax rates without disowning the Bowles-Simpson plan as a whole.
In any case, what struck me about what Teles is saying is that it sort of runs counter the stereotype of the right-wing masses as obedient to authority while left-wing masses are less hierarchical. If he is right (and I am skeptical), then it is the Democrats who are more willing to accede to the judgment of their leaders.