Reagan’s Economic Advisor Tells The Right “I Told You So”

Bruce Bartlett, senior economic advisor to Reagan and H.W. Bush and recent apostate from  movement conservatism, can’t help but spike the ball in the endzone in his latest column. Writing for The American Conservative, he breaks down his extensive conservative resume along with his separation from the party:

I’m not going to beat around the bush and pretend I don’t have a vested interest here. Frankly, I think I’m at ground zero in the saga of Republicans closing their eyes to any facts or evidence that conflict with their dogma. Rather than listen to me, they threw me under a bus. To this day, I don’t think they understand that my motives were to help them avoid the permanent decline that now seems inevitable.

After reviewing how the party pushed him out, he moves on the current state of things:

At least a few conservatives now recognize that Republicans suffer for epistemic closure. They were genuinely shocked at Romney’s loss because they ignored every poll not produced by a right-wing pollster such as Rasmussen or approved by right-wing pundits such as the perpetually wrong Dick Morris. Living in the Fox News cocoon, most Republicans had no clue that they were losing or that their ideas were both stupid and politically unpopular.

I am disinclined to think that Republicans are yet ready for a serious questioning of their philosophy or strategy. They comfort themselves with the fact that they held the House (due to gerrymandering) and think that just improving their get-out-the-vote system and throwing a few bones to the Latino community will fix their problem. There appears to be no recognition that their defects are far, far deeper and will require serious introspection and rethinking of how Republicans can win going forward. The alternative is permanent loss of the White House and probably the Senate as well, which means they can only temporarily block Democratic initiatives and never advance their own.

I’ve paid a heavy price, both personal and financial, for my evolution from comfortably within the Republican Party and conservative movement to a less than comfortable position somewhere on the center-left. Honest to God, I am not a liberal or a Democrat. But these days, they are the only people who will listen to me. When Republicans and conservatives once again start asking my opinion, I will know they are on the road to recovery.

Remember, this is from the man who invented “supply side economics.” For someone like this to be pushed out for dissent should provide all the evidence one needs for how dysfunctional the GOP is right now. Don’t take my word for it, read his entire piece, then ask yourself if that’s how a healthy organization acts.

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8 Responses to Reagan’s Economic Advisor Tells The Right “I Told You So”

  1. Pingback: Reagan’s Economic Advisor, “GOP is full of crazy, ignorant Tea Partiers.” | Reason and Politics

  2. Jarret R. says:

    I like the points Bartlett makes here, but I have some quibbles. He states, quote:
    “The best way to get Republicans to read a book about reaching out for the black vote, I thought, was to detail the Democratic Party’s long history of maltreatment of blacks. After all, the party was based in the South for 100 years after the war, and all of the ugly racism we associate with that region was enacted and enforced by Democratic politicians. I was surprised that such a book didn’t already exist.”

    Clearly, he has never read ANY history books published by any scholarly press over the last seventy years, because this subject has been covered extensively by historians, especially those historians writing about the antebellum and Reconstruction era. For heaven’s sake, there is a mountain of literature on the influence of racial politics on the Democratic Party’s split during the 1860 presidential election. Micahel Perman, a scholar who has written extensively on the intersection of race and southern politics, has a great book on the Democratic Party’s key role in the disenfranchisement of blacks in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. (see

    Furthermore, every historian who has written on the New Deal coalition has dealt with the internal compromises that FDR had to make with southern Democrats on the issues of race. These comprises, among other things, are why blacks were initially denied access to Social Security.

    All of that said, Barlett’s willingness to recognize the utter nonsensicalness of supply-side thinking is an honest example of someone examining the empirical evidence and coming to new conclusions. Its something honest thinkers must do.

    • Lets be honest, do you really see the Fox News crowd reading a scholarly book like that? It needs to be a Glenn Beck-style picture book with the reading level of “Curious George” for them to pick it up.

  3. I’m not totally on board with everything Bartlett says here (he oversimplifies our goals with Latinos quite a bit, for example). But the general idea of a dysfunctional organization with great potential is absolutely the correct one.

  4. Excellent take. Reblogging to DCC. Keep up the good work.

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