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Samuel Gregg on the GOP Roundtable

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Acton director of research Samuel Gregg offers his thoughts on last night’s GOP Roundtable in this NRO Symposium. Gregg thinks the debate offered an important alternative to the government-driven economy talk that fills the news every other night of the week.

In a week in which two American economists from the non-Keynesian side of the ledger received the Nobel Prize for Economics, last night’s GOP debate gave us some insight into the depth and character of the various candidates’ free-market commitments and the different policy priorities which flow from the various forms of those commitments.

But if the ideas were strong, they were a reminder of separation between our free market ideals and our considerably less free economy:

For the most part, the candidates focused upon the institutional background that either impedes or facilitates economic growth: the regulatory environment, tax levels, trade policy, monetary policy, etc. Listening to the responses was a salutary reminder of the gap betweenAmerica’s free-market aspirations and rhetoric, and the rather different Eurosclerotic economic reality that has slowly envelopedAmerica– and not just over the past three years, but over several decades.

The only way we’re really going to get our economy going, is by addressing entitlements.

The surprising omission was substantial discussion of the issue of welfare reform and the related question of America’s public debt. While Obamacare was continually criticized because of its costs, that’s only part of the picture. Substantive entitlement reform is indispensable if we want to significantly reduce the spending and deficits that threaten to suck the life out of America’s economy. Addressing this subject is of course very politically risky because far too many Americans are more attached to the welfare state than they care to admit. But if fiscal conservatives aren’t willing to tackle this issue, then who will?

Kenneth Spence


  • Clare Krishan

    yeh but… entitlements to what, by whom?
    Consider a recent blog posting from the Cobden Center: “The second crisis of socialism”authored by German Detlev Schlichter,  Why are we in this mess?
    “Undercapitalized banks” is code for banks that lent too much. How
    can banks have lent too much, and obviously have done so for years,
    decades even, and have done so the world over in the most enduring and
    persistent credit binge in history, when they are all under the control
    of the state central bank, which in a paper money system has the
    monopoly of printing (unlimited) bank reserves and administratively
    setting short-term interest rates, and thus controlling lending
    conditions? Is this not properly called state failure, rather than
    market failure?”

    Could this explain why certain “crony capitalists” are so allergic to Elizabeth Warren’s critique of TARP? She’s apt to place the ‘wrong’ entitlements on the chopping block?

    ActonPowerBlog, please honor Acton (power corrupts…) and conduct a profound examination of conscience. You need to speak to the obfuscations on banking legitimacy in the US – who “owns” the corporate entities that determine national Fed policy (banks that are recapitalized by the ‘generosity’ of foreign sovereign investors equates to sovereignty surrendered, no?). What kind of patrimony does the Federal Reserve Note represent?

    To say that the Fed can sever the purchasing power of fruit of our labors (by “twisting” the prices paid to access our accumulated capital, in pension funds based on Treasury bonds for example) is to say that the holder of the asset (Treasury bond) has no moral title to it… even a pagan can see this is fatal to his liberty, yet we Christians ought to outraged.  “Toxic” assets being “sterilized” to prevent “contagion” taking hold (all bible metaphors for sin and its consequences of course)
    are relativistic means to pursue evil ends. Don’t be surprised that social capital will not be as resilient to contagion, and the trust of the citizenry upon which the polis depends is weakened unto death…
    say that this connection can never be severed without the consent of
    the citizen himself is to say that the polity has no moral character, no
    moral terms that could ever be broken. It is to say that we are no more to each other than fellow residents in a hotel.”

    Bailouts-on-demand and abortion-on-demand are fruits of the same unGodly tree.