Mansfield Fox

Law student. Yankees fan. Massive fraggle. Just living the American dream.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

The Future of Conservatism

In the Weekly Standard, Ross Douthat and Reihan Salam lay out a vision for the future of conservatism, at least on the economic front. Their goal, as I take it, is to fashion a conservatism that recognizes that it's base is now primarily a middle- and working-class one, and speaks to the concerns of that base without merely replicating the command-and-control liberalism of the old New Deal coalition.

Other than eliminating the deduction for state and local income taxes* I think they're all pretty sound policy proposals, and merit serious consideration.

*I appreciate what they're trying to do here, which is to create incentives for high income blue-staters to vote for lower state taxes. My objections are two:

1) Blue-state tax rates are more extrinsic than they suggest. You might get lower taxes eventually, but in the meantime you'd see the flight of middle-class families and the wealthy to low tax states, which would exacerbate the Red State/Blue State polarization, which I at least take to be a bad thing. The goal of "Sam's Club" conservatism should be to encourage the creation of large, stable, productive families throughout the United States, not just in red-state exurbs.

2) The state and local tax deductions are pro-federalism deductions. They funnel money that would otherwise go into federal coffers into state treasuries. If we think federalism is a normative good, and want the states to take over a bigger share of the governing in the country, we want them to be able to fund that governing. Eliminating the state and local tax deduction would push the states one step closer to obsolescence.