Nothing’s ever certain except race and taxes.
Andrew Sullivan has this map posted at the Dish today, which he found via Open Left. What I take from Open Left’s analysis is that by and large white men are not all that progressive. Why this should be “discouraging” to Sullivan is beyond me, unless we’re conflating a lack of progressiveness with out and out racism. Which I think would be a mistake. The second map shows the non-white-male voters who picked Obama.
I also wonder if Yglesias is all that correct with this assessment:
I would say that another message is that progressive politics is badly disadvantaged by a situation in which the overwhelming majorities of political leaders and prominent media figures are white men. There are plenty of white men with progressive views, but in general the majority of white men are not progressive and the majority of progressives are not white men.
I think a lot of minority voters aren’t so much “progressive” as they are in favor of more direct government assistance, something Democrats have promised to do better than Republicans. A lot of minorities and union members also happen to be staunch social conservatives. Support for things like gay marriage is very low among black and Hispanic populations. Union members and minorities just have populist tendencies when it comes to economics.
Democrats have effectively captured this narrative. They promise to help the downtrodden and protect labor interests, whether or not there is much evidence that their policies are actually good for the country as a whole or for minorities in particular. The most effective Democrat in recent decades has been Bill Clinton, whose economic record is essentially a pretty conservative one. In many ways the Clinton years were fairly center-right economically, with serious entitlement reform and budget-balancing. The progressive hopes placed in Barack Obama are hardly for a repeat of “the days of big-government are over” Bill Clinton.
Republicans, on the other hand, have done a terrible job offering an alternative vision to big welfare, even though a system of efficient and cost-effective safety nets place less of a financial burden on taxpayers and are better for sustainable job creation. The anti-government all-the-time rhetoric has left them with little room to offer up any good ideas.
By the way, all of this is distorted by our levels of debt. Until a more realistic tax rate is introduced to actually pay for all these services progressives want, we’ll continue to live in a land of illusion. Dave Schuler shares this graph taken from this report [pdf] put out by the Tax Foundation:
During the fiscal year that’s just beginning, fiscal year 2010, the federal government plans to spend $3.8 trillion dollars, the largest annual expenditure ever. On the revenue side, taxes will bring in about $2.3 trillion, so the federal government is creating a shortfall of approximately
$1.5 trillion. That projected deficit will vary as the months pass, but it may well end up being even higher than the record-setting deficit in 2009 of $1.4 trillion. Those huge amounts translate into a federal government that will spend $33,000 on each household but that will raise only $19,000.
Although President Obama and the Congress do plan to raise taxes, which will cut into the deficit, they also have new spending plans, leaving the budget with historically huge deficits throughout the next decade. Those deficits will be financed by selling U.S. Treasury bonds to people all over the world and paying them back with interest in years to come. But instead of borrowing, could a congress willing to bring taxpayers the full bill for this year’s spending erase the deficit by raising taxes this year?
I’ll go out on a limb here and predict that isn’t a realistically foreseeable level of taxation. That means that we can’t get our fiscal house in order by additional taxes alone. We’re going to need some spending restraint and some borrowing.
The progressive answer to everything – spend more – and the one that Andrew seems to be cheer-leading more and more – is only one piece in a far more complex equation. Until we address the issue of actually paying for all of it, the welfare state envisioned by the left is still just a fantasy full of unintended consequences and a high price-tag. Bastiat said that a good economist is discernible from a bad one based on his ability to look beyond the immediate. My question is whether the second map above would look quite as blue if people were paying the tax rates necessary to pay for everything.
Oh, and same goes for defense conservatives who preach limited government out of one side of their mouth and then cheer as we sign $680 billion dollar defense budgets. How can we ever attain truly limited government if we spend on defense at those levels? How can we gripe about the price-tag of healthcare reform if we’re spending ten times that on fancy new jets and expensive overseas contingency operations?
~cross-posted at American Tory