Cameronism and Grand New Party

Needless to say, I found a lot to like in this speech, which David Cameron just delivered in Glasgow. Andrew, though, thinks it sets up a striking contrast with our book:

I'm struck, in contrast to R&R, how restrained Cameron is. His policy prescriptions - more autonomy at the bottom of public services, more accountability within the public sector, a gentle tax incentive for marriage - are more in line with traditional conservatism than wage subsidies, for example.

Honestly, I think this is a bit silly. Yes, we have some proposals in Grand New Party - wage subsidies being the biggest example - that go beyond what Cameron's Tories have proposed, but there are also plenty of areas where the Tory Party (which operates in a vastly different political landscape than the American Republican Party, obviously) is considerably to our left - and to Andrew's, presumably - on taxation, spending and welfare policy. As for that "gentle" tax incentive for marriage ... well, let's look at what the Cameron Tories are actually proposing: A tax allowance of roughly £1000 a year for parents who stay home with their kids, front-loaded per-child tax benefits that offer parents £2800 a year while their kids are below the age of three, and increased tax credits for low-income parents, which would offer 1.8 million British couples roughly £1600 a week a year [sorry, typo]. Translate those pounds into dollars, and those population figures into an American context, and you've got a set of proposals that might be slightly less pricey than the $5000-per-child tax credit and the (fiscally unspecific) notions of benefits for stay-at-home parents we propose, but that are certainly in the same general ballpark - and that actually go further than our basic proposals (though not our ideal ones) in terms of directly discriminating in favor of marriage. I understand that Andrew wants to like the Cameron Tories, and that he's suspicious of some of the ideas Reihan and I have put forward (and they merit suspicion!), but the notion that Cameronism is way closer to some platonic ideal of "traditional conservatism" than what we're talking about in Grand New Party just won't wash.

Update: See also Reihan's remarks on the subject, especially his observation that "if Cameron embraced an agenda like the one outlined in Grand New Party, he would likely be accused of being a libertarian radical hellbent on destroying the most cherished parts of Britain’s welfare state."