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« Data Collection Demagoguery | WILLisms.com | Sunday Night Heidi Weimaraner Puppy Update: 18½ Weeks Old. »

Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 331 -- Majorities Matter.

Or, Why The GOP Should Learn To Start Worrying & Stop Loving Lincoln Chafee-

When former Republican Jim Jeffords switched parties shortly after President Bush took office in 2001, effectively handing control of the Senate to Tom Daschle and the Democrats, many in the GOP were furious.

"How dare he?!"

"Where is the loyalty!?"

And so on.

And indeed, although moderate tax relief packages wound up making their way to the President's desk in his first two years in office, "THE BUSH TAX CUTS" were not possible until after Republicans took a majority in the Senate in November of 2002. Indeed, it was not until 2003 that the American people finally got their big, important tax relief.

And what a relief it's been:


In some ways, the departure of Jim Jeffords from the GOP was a blessing for the Republican Party. Over the short-term, however, from 2001 to 2002, the Jeffords defection meant that major tax relief had to be delayed, denied, and deferred, until Republicans could once again win a majority in the Senate.

Shedding such dead weight (Jeffords) allowed the Republican coalition to better stand for something. No longer having to constantly compromise for the sake of Jim Jeffords, the party's legislative agenda was injected with focus and purpose. Without Jeffords, it was much easier to energize "the base" we hear so much about. Grassroots money flooded in. The 2002 and 2004 elections were stunningly successful in their own unique ways. Giving up one RINO (Republican In Name Only) in exchange for several true conservatives was-- ultimately-- great for the Republican legislative agenda.

But, Jim Jeffords was not the only problematic member of the GOP coalition. Several remain. Several are uniquely infuriating, and distinctly terrible. One among those several stands out, however.

It's Lincoln Chafee. He's awful. Even worse than the others who shall remain nameless in this post.

Chafee, for example, joined a couple of Republicans and nearly all Democrats in voting against tax relief this week. If you glance through his interest group ratings, you'll notice that voting for higher taxes fit his modus operandi perfectly.

And yet, the NRSC (National Republican Senatorial Committee) prominently supported liberal Chafee against a conservative primary opponent.

Is it any wonder that the NRSC is the only one of the major Republican organizations lagging in the fundraising department:


Let's get real, here. The slide in support for Congressional Republicans from "the base" is all about folks like Lincoln Chafee. Conservatives are not rejecting conservatism. They (we) are rejecting Republicans who are insufficiently conservative.

For all intents and purposes, Chafee has defected from the GOP just as much as Jim Jeffords defected in 2001. Chafee has declared war on the Republican legislative agenda. If Democrats so much as sniff a majority, Chafee's as good as gone. Unfortunately, some GOP higher-ups have misinterpreted (mangled?) the concept of having a "big tent" party. So, instead of telling Chafee to take a hike, or letting Chafee take a hike on his own, the leadership has accomodated him, coddled him, protected him, and otherwise supported him.

What the Republican Party needs most of all right now-- and is likely least of all willing to do right now due to low poll numbers-- is shed some dead weight.

Congressional Republicans ought to understand, believe in, and defend graphs (and accompanying commentary) like this (.pdf):

...it is important to note that up to 40 percent of federal income tax filers cannot receive further tax relief because these taxpayers do not in effect pay federal income taxes. Millions of families, many in the bottom fifth, have either zero tax liability or receive a net transfer from the government due to the refundable portion of the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and/or the Child Tax Credit (CTC).


...the average tax liability for returns reporting income under $20,000 was negative for tax year 2003. While reliance on averages alone can be misleading, the data suggest that tens of millions of tax returns actually reported either zero or negative federal income tax liability.

Chafee might understand it. He does not believe in it. And he'd never be caught dead defending it.

Or, take this Donald Luskin piece on the post-tax cut economy versus the pre-tax cut economy (with dazzling graphs added for elucidation!):

In the 17 months from November 2001 (NBER’s official recession end-date) to April 2003 (my proposed recession end-date), real GDP grew 3.2 percent. But in the 36 months from April 2003 to now, real GDP has grown much more: 11.3 percent.

From November 2001 to April 2003 the unemployment rate actually went up — from 5.5 percent to 6 percent. And 1 million payroll jobs were destroyed. Talk about a jobless recovery! But from April 2003 to now, the unemployment rate has fallen to 4.7 percent and 5.1 million payroll jobs have been created.


From November 2001 to April 2003 the S&P 500 fell 18 percent. Some bull market! But from April 2003 to now, it is up 51 percent. Now that’s a bull market.


From November 2001 to April 2003 corporate earnings grew a paltry 7 percent. But from April 2003 to present they’ve grown a stunning 56 percent, and are now at all-time highs.


From November 2001 to April 2003 manufacturers’ new orders fell 5 percent and private sector non-residential fixed investment fell 1 percent. Not exactly a big vote of confidence in growth. But from April 2003 to now, new orders have swelled 38 percent and fixed investment has surged 35 percent.


From November 2001 to April 2003 federal income tax receipts fell 11 percent, contributing to record government budget deficits. But from April 2003 to present, tax receipts have exploded by 26 percent, and now stand at all-time highs. In fact, it was reported this week that tax money is pouring into the Treasury at such a torrid pace that our government now holds a record $94 billion in excess cash.


Clearly, tax cuts were good for something. It's not the man in the Oval Office that matters. It's the policies the man in the Oval Office is able to enact. Congress is the key. The 2002 elections were crucial to the economic success we enjoy today.

However, Chafee joins several Senate Republicans in not believing that tax relief has grown the economy. That's his right. But it's our right to throw the bum(s) out of office. Chafee is simply tainting the Republican brand, making it more difficult for Republicans in those "red states" and "red districts" to draw distinctions between the party of low tax prosperity (the Republicans) and the party of Karl Marx (the Democrats).

Majorities matter, but not just majorities of Rs or Ds. True majorities. Majorities of ideas.


Previous Trivia Tidbit: Zimbabwe Needs Freedom.

Posted by Will Franklin · 12 May 2006 06:15 PM


Is it possible that Chaffee is the best Republicans can do in his state?

California has a very right Republican Party. They don't win elections.

Their governor is only a nominal Republican. Same as the Republican Mayor of NY.

To get more party purity you need to move the electorate more than the candidates.

Posted by: M. Simon at May 13, 2006 03:44 AM

I know you will find this hard to believe, but generally candidates represent their electorate.

BTW parties are ruled legislatively by the compromises needed to get the marginal vote. This is good.

It keeps actual politics in the center.

Which is good. At least from the point of view of stability.

Posted by: M. Simon at May 13, 2006 03:55 AM

I'm with you on tax cuts.

Posted by: M. Simon at May 13, 2006 04:07 AM

"Is it possible that Chaffee is the best Republicans can do in his state?"
[That should be Chafee w/ one eff, right?]
Perhaps true, and no one argues that voters in RI should not be allowed to vote for him. But I would feel stupid to donate money to the Nat'l Repub Senate Comm and have my money go to the Chafee campaign. And that goes double regarding the Chafee PRIMARY campaign.
Let the guy run, let him be a member of the GOP, oh my, yes. But voters gave the Repubs both branches of Congress and the White House because they wanted change (and also because the Dems are so pathetic). Sen Chafee is not exactly an agent of change, now is he?

Posted by: Jim,MtnViewCA,USA at May 13, 2006 06:48 AM

Why compare 36-month numbers to 17-month numbers without annualizing them???

Posted by: Dave in NYC at May 14, 2006 11:39 AM

Why compare arbitrary time periods, just because they are exactly equal in length???

The reason, obviously, is that the recession was officially "over" in November 2001 (ironically, since it was just after 9/11), but the economic growth we enjoy today didn't begin until 2003's tax cuts.

If you want to vaguely compare, just multiply the 17-month period by two. Or, if you want to be more precise, by 2.12. You'll notice that the comparisons still hold.

Posted by: Will Franklin at May 14, 2006 11:53 AM

The Republicans have no message that they can defend by pointing to their actions. They're just Democrats who move more slowly.

The tax cuts are a red herring. As long as the government is spending the money, it's coming from somewhere. If it comes from bonds instead of taxes, then it's long-term investment money that would have been better off invested in a private company.

Stop spending the money.

I'm a conservative, Catholic Republican who may well stay home or vote Libertarian this time.

Posted by: K T Cat at May 15, 2006 06:49 AM

Why compare arbitrary time periods, just because they are exactly equal in length???

That's not what I asked. I asked why you didn't annualize the data. My guess is because Donald Luskin didn't do so and you were too lazy to create your own graphs.

If you want to vaguely compare, just multiply the 17-month period by two. Or, if you want to be more precise, by 2.12. You'll notice that the comparisons still hold.

Well, no, they don't still hold, unless all you're interested in is a simple "is X greater than Y" comparison.

Posted by: Dave at May 15, 2006 11:07 AM

There's got to be line these people cross that makes them unfit.

Mine on Chafee was voting against Alito.

That and I think Club for Growth's will be enough to help Laffey win in the general if he can get past Chafee, or as I call him, Lincoln Chapstick:


Posted by: Tom Blumer at May 17, 2006 04:09 PM