by Patrick Appel
Noah Millman wonders whether economics should remain the primary focus of Libertarian politics:
I would argue that, over the past thirty years, there has been a vast increase in appreciation of the importance of free markets across the political spectrum. Yes, government spending has spiked way up in the past two years as a consequence of the financial crisis and the recession (TARP, ARRA) but discretionary non-defense spending is still much lower as a percentage of GDP than it was in 1980. The health care reform passed in this congress reflected a move to the “left” by the country but it reflected a move to the “right” by the “left” inasmuch as it reflected conservative criticisms of past left-wing health care overhaul plans such as President Clinton’s failed first-term effort.
Socialist parties in Europe preside over efforts to overhaul their welfare states to make them more efficient and responsive. Private sector unionization in the United States continues to drop, down to 7.2 percent in 2009. While very recently there’s been a revival of enthusiasm for regulation (particularly of the financial sector), the overall trend has been of more and more widespread acceptance of basic insights from economics that are part of a libertarian’s stock in trade.
So, yes, libertarians should find a friendlier home in the GOP if their priority is pushing the traditional GOP agenda of low taxes and weaker regulation of the economy. But should this be their priority?