Yesterday, the media frenzy was all about Chris Christie’s endorsement of “The Donald.” Of course, there has been something every day–the latest tweet, the most egregious insult, the latest analysis of how someone so manifestly unqualified has managed to get this far…
All of this media attention focused upon Trump–attention that has allowed him to suck all the oxygen out of Republican rooms–has had a number of unfortunate consequences. One of the less remarked of those consequences is that the so-called “establishment” candidates look more reasonable by comparison.
Even Trump can’t make Cruz look sane, but as political observers have pointed out, Rubio and even Kasich are on record taking positions that would have been unthinkable even ten years ago. Paul Krugman recently noted aspects of Rubio’s extremism:
[W]hat I do know is that one shouldn’t treat establishment support as an indication that Mr. Rubio is moderate and sensible. On the contrary, not long ago someone holding his policy views would have been considered a fringe crank.
Let me leave aside Mr. Rubio’s terrifying statements on foreign policy and his evident willingness to make a bonfire of civil liberties, and focus on what I know best, economics.
You probably know that Mr. Rubio is proposing big tax cuts, and may know that among other things he proposes completely eliminating taxes on investment income — which would mean, for example, that Mitt Romney would end up owing precisely zero in federal taxes.
What you may not know is that Mr. Rubio’s tax cuts would be almost twice as big as George W. Bush’s as a percentage of gross domestic product — despite the fact that federal debt is much higher than it was 15 years ago, and Republicans have spent the Obama years warning incessantly that budget deficits will destroy America, any day now.
What Krugman failed to note were Rubio’s extreme social policy positions; for one thing, he proposes outlawing abortion even in the case of rape and incest.
Not to be outdone, the presumably more moderate John Kasich recently defunded Ohio’s Planned Parenthood.
These are the candidates whose hoped-for elevation to the highest office in the land is motivating Mitch McConnell and his Senate colleagues to ignore their constitutional duty to consider an Obama Supreme Court nominee. (“Strict construction,” anyone??)
If the Senate Republicans manage to keep Scalia’s position open, the next President is likely to choose three Supreme Court Justices. If those choices are made by any of these candidates, America will be a very different country in short order. And it won’t be a country that most of us will recognize.