The Plank

Enough With The Speeches

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The speeches sound lovely and the cocktail parties, I'm sure, are great fun. But what does the Republican Party actually believe? If last night was indicative, we won't be getting a satisfactory answer to that question in the next few days--or maybe even in the weeks after that. John McCain's campaign manager has already said he thinks this election is "not about the issues."

Fortunately, the Republicans did take the time to write a party platform--and, over at ThinkProgress, Matthew Yglesias has been reading it. Among the more fascinating planks he's uncovered is a proposal to stop adjusting budget figures for inflation--an idea that, as Matthew rightly notes, makes no sense at all. If we didn't adjust for inflation, it would appear that we spent more money on the Gulf War than we did on World War II.

While I haven't had time to read the full document myself, I have purused the economics section. It calls for a return to fiscal responsibility, which is fine. But the way the document is written, you'd think the Democrats had been in charge for the last eight years. You'd never know that the government was running budget surpluses when Bill Clinton left office and that it was only after Bush's tax cuts that deficits reappeared. 

No, I don't really find that surprising. But it's a reminder that, even when the Republicans do talk substance, they don't dwell too much on the facts.  

--Jonathan Cohn 

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