In doing a little research recently for the Jack Kemp project we have alluded to before, I read a great passage in Bruce Bartlett’s 1981 book Reaganomics: Supply Side Economics In Action. The passage in question was written by Jude Wanniski for National Observer in 1976. The passage rings particularly true after the “controversy” caused by Rush Limbaugh after the 2012 election because of his reference to “Santa Claus” being Obama and the Democrat Party, and how no one wanted to vote against Santa Claus:
The Democrats, the party of income redistribution, are best suited for the role of Spending Santa Claus. The Republicans, traditionally the party of income growth, should be the Santa Claus of Tax Reduction. It has been the failure of the GOP to stick to this traditional role that has caused much of the nation’s economic misery. . . . It isn’t that Republicans don’t enjoy cutting taxes. They love it. But there is something in the Republican chemistry that causes the GOP to become hypnotized by the prospect of an imbalanced budget. Static analysis tells them taxes can’t be cut or inflation will result. They either argue for a tax hike to dampen inflation when the economy is in a boom or demand spending cuts to balance the budget when the economy is in recession. Either way, of course, they embrace the role of Scrooge, playing into the hands of the Democrats, who know the first rule of successful politics is Never Shoot Santa Claus. The political tension in the market place of ideas must be between tax reduction and spending increases, and as long as Republicans have insisted on balanced budgets, their influence as a party has shriveled, and budgets have been imbalanced. (page 127)
So poignant, and still so true.