Ross doesn't approve of Republicans attacking Obama for his "spreading the wealth around" line:
...if conservatives back themselves into a corner where they're denouncing any kind of redistributionism as pure socialism, they're undercutting their ability to push for this vision of a more means-tested welfare state - because that push, if it ever has any chance of succeeding politically, will have to rely on explicitly redistributionist arguments to succeed.
For instance, when John McCain proposed - correctly, in my view - that we should consider means-testing the Medicare prescription drug benefit, he justified the proposal on the grounds that "people like Bill Gates and Warren Buffett don't need their prescriptions underwritten by taxpayers." In other words, McCain was proposing a leaner Medicare that spreads the wealth to seniors who can't afford their prescription, and uses Warren Buffett's tax dollars to do it - rather than a more bloated, inefficient Medicare that makes less of a distinction between rich and poor in how it spends taxpayer dollars. I thought that was a conservative proposal. But maybe it's just creeping socialism.
But there is a critical distinction between how a government raises revenue and how it distributes its spending. I'm with McCain on taxes in principle. And I'd like to see means-testing of Medicare and social security rather than tax hikes. But Ross is right that the moronic nature of the current McCain campaign is not helping future attempts to reform a welfare state that, along with defense over-reach, is at the core of our fiscal problems.
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