Foundational Choices? It's the Politics of Self-Indulgence

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The supposedly foundational choices that the Republican party is pitching to voters are a fraud, I argue in a column for Bloomberg.

The contest for the Republican presidential nomination, which has the U.S. political class transfixed, is barely even pretending to be serious. In this election, the country has to make a "foundational" choice, says Rick Santorum. Does the U.S. want to follow the European welfare-state model, asks Mitt Romney, or stay true to its principles? Gosh, so much is at stake.

This bogus fundamentalism is an excuse to avoid discussing the real decisions that will have to be made. The economic plans of the main Republican rivals are entirely unserious -- too vague to appraise and impossible to implement if they meant what their proponents claim them to mean. Public borrowing is out of control, say the Republicans. Therefore, slash taxes, maintain middle-class entitlements and invest more in national security. You can call that a foundational fiscal choice or a self-indulgent fantasy. It comes to much the same thing.

I think Democrats are too keen on their own transformative/fundamentalist rhetoric--but at the moment, happily for them, the GOP has the floor.

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Clive Crook is a senior editor of The Atlantic and a columnist for Bloomberg View. He was the Washington columnist for the Financial Times, and before that worked at The Economist for more than 20 years, including 11 years as deputy editor. Crook writes about the intersection of politics and economics. More

Crook writes about the intersection of politics and economics.

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