The Whip Hand

Jon Chait points out in a New York Times op-ed that tonight's GOP debate on economic issues is unlikely to feature any real debate -- the GOP demands slavish orthodoxy to tax cutting as the solution to all problems:

Mr. McCain is not alone. Every major Republican contender — Rudy Giuliani, Fred Thompson, Mitt Romney — has said that the Bush tax cuts have caused government revenues to rise. No prominent Republican office-seeker dare challenge this dogma for fear of offending the economic far right.[...]

No Republican candidate can risk committing heresy by acknowledging this bipartisan consensus among economists. On social issues, however, Republicans actually tolerate diversity of thought. For example, Mr. McCain, Mr. Giuliani and Mr. Thompson all oppose, on federalist grounds, a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage. [...]

The most recent Pew survey of the electorate, which came out two years ago, revealed that Republicans find common ground on social issues like discouraging homosexuality and teaching creationism alongside evolution in the public schools. They disagree on economic policy. In the survey, most members of the Republican coalition preferred deficit reduction to tax cuts. [...]

A handful of fanatical ideologues, along with a somewhat larger number of money men who stand to gain a fortune from supply-side policies, relentlessly enforce the faith. They do so with far more success than the religious right, and they receive far less mockery for their efforts.

Indeed. Coincidentally enough, Jon has a whole book about this stuff that you can buy.

UPDATE: See also the Ambinder Debate Preview.