David Brooks Invents "Growing Consensus" to Help the Poor

Moneybox
A blog about business and economics.
Jan. 17 2014 9:30 AM

David Brooks Invents "Growing Consensus" to Help the Poor

In a curious column today, David Brooks asserted that Republican Party politicians are deeply concerned about the welfare of poor Americans and that if liberals would just stop being mean to rich people the country could come together and help the poor:

There is a growing consensus that government should be doing more to help increase social mobility for the less affluent. Even conservative Republicans are signing on to this. The income inequality language introduces a class conflict element to this discussion.
Advertisement

Brooks no doubt has better connections to the world of conservative politics than I do, so perhaps he'll write a follow-up column detailing some elements of that consensus. Poorly sourced as I am, I'm left to read hazy tea leaves. Like for example, suppose the Republican Party caucus had the opportunity to write a detailed budget framework laying out its view of how federal spending should be reshaped over the medium- and long-term? Fortunately, it turns out Republicans did exactly that offering what they describe as "a contrast in visions" rather than a consensus.

Dylan Matthews devised a helpful summary chart:

ryanbudget

This budget turns out to have a really interesting property. To the extent that spending programs are targeted at helping poor people, the House GOP budget cuts those programs more severely than the programs that are less-targeted at the poor. That's not a decision that's driven by thinking about the appropriate overall level of government spending. It is true that the GOP wants to spend less overall. But they also want to specifically redistribute the spending so as to be less helpful to the poor.

At the same time, Paul Ryan wants to reform the tax code in a way that "would likely result in a huge tax cut for the very wealthy."

So at least on its face, it doesn't seem to me that there is a consensus on helping the poor that's being disrupted by a controversy about the rich. It is true that Republicans think one major problem in America today is that the highest-earning Americans don't have enough take-home pay. And it is true that the GOP view on this is impelling them to propose a budget that reduces spending on middle-class entitlement programs. But it's also true that Republicans want to cut spending on low-income people much more drastically than they want to cut spending on middle-class people. We saw that with Ryan's budget, we saw it with the House GOP proposal to cut food stamps, and we saw it in Mitt Romney's campaign proposals.

Matthew Yglesias is the executive editor of Vox and author of The Rent Is Too Damn High.

TODAY IN SLATE

Justice Ginsburg’s Crucial Dissent in the Texas Voter ID Case

The Jarring Experience of Watching White Americans Speak Frankly About Race

How Facebook’s New Feature Could Come in Handy During a Disaster

The Most Ingenious Teaching Device Ever Invented

Sprawl, Decadence, and Environmental Ruin in Nevada

View From Chicago

You Should Be Able to Sell Your Kidney

Or at least trade it for something.

Space: The Next Generation

An All-Female Mission to Mars

As a NASA guinea pig, I verified that women would be cheaper to launch than men.

Terrorism, Immigration, and Ebola Are Combining Into a Supercluster of Anxiety

The Legal Loophole That Allows Microsoft to Seize Assets and Shut Down Companies

  News & Politics
Propublica
Oct. 17 2014 4:21 PM Why the Poor Pay $1,400 for Old iPads #MuckReads: A weekly roundup of investigative reporting from ProPublica.
  Business
Business Insider
Oct. 19 2014 11:40 AM Pot-Infused Halloween Candy Is a Worry in Colorado
  Life
Outward
Oct. 17 2014 5:26 PM Judge Begrudgingly Strikes Down Wyoming’s Gay Marriage Ban
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 17 2014 1:54 PM Republican Midterm Debate Strategy: Be Pro-Life, But Not Anti-Abortion
  Slate Plus
Slate Picks
Oct. 17 2014 1:33 PM What Happened at Slate This Week?  Senior editor David Haglund shares what intrigued him at the magazine. 
  Arts
Behold
Oct. 19 2014 4:33 PM Building Family Relationships in and out of Juvenile Detention Centers
  Technology
Future Tense
Oct. 17 2014 6:05 PM There Is No Better Use For Drones Than Star Wars Reenactments
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Oct. 19 2014 7:30 AM Persistence Pays Off: The Smoking Trail of a Shooting Star
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 16 2014 2:03 PM Oh What a Relief It Is How the rise of the bullpen has changed baseball.