Amity Shlaes, author of the Forgotten Man, the brilliant critical history of the New Deal, told the CPAC audience this morning that the way to win the battle over the nation’s fiscal future was by advocating better policies, not by resorting to name-calling of liberal opponents.
“When somebody attacks ad hominem, it means they don’t have a coherent idea,” Shlaes said. She made the remarks on a panel ably moderated by Quin Hillyer, which also featured Herb London and Jonah Goldberg.
Shlaes opened her remarks by explaining that while her book was on the “Forgotten Man” of the New Deal era (who suffered from FDR’s economic policies), today it’s future generations of children and grandchildren who will bear the burden of the crushing debt being piled on them.
She observed that back during the New Deal era, there was a backlash against FDR’s policies, but it was dominated by “silliness” and “hostility,” while elected Republicans offered a “New Deal lite” approach rather than a true alternative. This was also the case in the 1950s, when McCarthyite attacks became a substitute for criticizing policies such as the 88 percent marginal tax rate.
Modern Republicans, she said have made some of the same mistakes — such as offering “Democrat lite” policies such as the Medicare prescription drug plan. Instead, she argued, they needed to put economics at the center of the discussion and offer substantial policies to address our nations fiscal problems, and endorsed Paul Ryan’s “Roadmap” as a good example.
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