The Learning Curve

New tricks for an old dog.

Fairy tales Republicans tell themselves

George H.W. Bush’s  memorable campaign phrase in 1988 was “Read my lips: No new taxes!”

But in 1990, Bush faced a rising budget deficit and congressional Democrats who insisted on revenue increases to partly offset spending cuts. Bush’s accepted a compromise deal and agreed to raise taxes. Hardcore conservatives howled, and Bush lost his 1992 re-election bid to Bill Clinton.

Republicans like to scare their children into obedience by telling them of the fate that awaits any Republican politician who follows G. H. W. Bush’s bad example of raising taxes. As the story is told and re-told, memory of Ross Perot’s strong 1992 third-party run for the Presidency in each of the 50 states all but fades into oblivion. Perot won 18.9% of the popular vote with such declared policies as balancing the federal budget, expansion of the war on drugs, ending outsourcing of jobs, and opposition to gun control.

Many analysts believe Perot’s strong appeal to conservative independent voters had more impact on the election, allowing Bill Clinton to win, than did Bush’s reversal on taxes. Republicans don’t mention Ross Perot often. However much hardcore conservatives howled at Bush, I bet not many of them voted for Clinton.


Written by Tom Fox

07/12/2011 at 11:05 am

Posted in Politics

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