February 17, 2006

Senator Lincoln Chafee, the Concord Coalition, Fiscal Conservatives, and Deficit Hawks

Carroll Andrew Morse

In yesterday's National Review Online, Senator Lincoln Chafee's campaign manager Ian Lang defended his candidate's record on economic issues...

[Senator Chafee] has also twice been designated the Senate’s “most fiscally responsible” member by the Concord Coalition for his support of a Pay-As-You-Go approach to federal spending and for his efforts to eliminate the deficit. Up here in Rhode Island, those are the kinds of values we associate with Republicans: they are in favor of individual freedoms, they promote economic development, and they never support deficit growth.
Though the Concord Coalition gives Senator Chafee very high marks, other organizations that rate Congressmen and Senators on taxation, budget, and spending issues -- like the National Taxpayers' Union, or Americans for Tax Reform -- consistently rank Senator Chafee in the middle of the pack, better than the most profligate Democrats, but worse than almost all other Republicans.

The differences come from different choices of priorities. There are three factors involved in evaluating fiscal policy; tax rates, spending outlays, and the size of the deficit. The Concord Coalition and Senator Chafee say that cutting the deficit is the top priority. The Concord Coalition says that, for long-term deficit reduction, entitlements must be brought under control. This is not a radical position. Republican Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist basically said the same thing last week at CPAC...

Q: Are there any issues you’d like to see Senator Chafee evolve on?

Senator Bill Frist: I need all Republicans to recognize that we need to tighten our belts like all other Americans are doing and have to do. We need to cut out the wasteful Washington spending. It is something we are committed to do and something that we will do. I would ask that all Republicans, including Senator Chafee, help me voice that entitlement reform has got to be brought back out to our agenda, because young people today are going to pay a heavy price. Their future is being mortgaged on our entitlement programs. It doesn’t mean cut them, but slow the growth, and if we do that, we can guarantee a future of prosperity for all Americans.

So if Bill Frist and the Concord Coalition, who declare Senator Chafee to be their favorite member, agree, then what's the problem?

The problem is that Senator Chafee and the Concord Coalition are "deficit hawks" but not "fiscal conservatives". Senator Chafee and the Concord Coalition operate from the decidedly non-conservative positions that 1) the expensive, inefficient, and bureaucratic government entitlement programs in existence today are the preferred methods for providing retirement and healthcare benefits, and 2) that these programs can be indefinitely sustained in their current form by tinkering with benefit schedules and adjustments and, of course, by keeping tax rates high.

Unfortunately, they seem to discount concerns that high tax-rates have a negative impact on economic growth (Mr. Lang, after all, claims that Senator Chafee's views are consistent with those who want "to promote economic development", despite the Senator's frequent opposition to tax-cuts) and resist considering creative mesaures for reform -- like voluntary, individual social security accounts -- that have the potential to permanently lower inefficient government spending.

Finally, while we are on the subject of tax-policy, one section of Mr. Lang's letter provides a too-incomplete description of reality...

Since he became mayor, [Steve] Laffey has raised taxes a whopping 20 percent — hiking the average Cranston homeowner’s tax bill by $1,000 three short years ago, while also increasing government spending.
At about the same time that Mayor Laffey was dealing with the budget issues in Cranston that Mr. Lang refers to, Senator Chafee was fighting in Congress to impose a Federal tax burden on the country that was hundreds of dollars more per-household than the President wanted. Why, at this time, was it OK for Senator Chafee to favor high tax rates, but not OK for Mayor Laffey?

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It's time for people on this site to stop acting like lunatics and look at the most important area of debate: abortion. Simply put, ProChoice is tantamount to ProMurder. Everyone has a moral responsibility to oppose Chafee on this ground and he who does not will surely suffer in the afterlife.

Posted by: Peter Jones at February 17, 2006 1:13 PM

Of course, I would have been more diplomatic in my use of words. However, I agree with the overall point.

Even if I didn't have sooooo many other issues to hold against Sen. Chafee when thinking about whom to vote for on Primary Day, his vocal support of unrestricted abortion on demand, at any age, and at any time, would itself be enough to make the difference.

Posted by: Will at February 18, 2006 3:35 AM

Laffey is on the move. Spring is coming, and laffey is on the move.

Posted by: vincent at February 18, 2006 7:39 AM

Unfortunately, they seem to discount concerns that high tax-rates have a negative impact on economic growth (Mr. Lang, after all, claims that Senator Chafee's views are consistent with those who want "to promote economic development", despite the Senator's frequent opposition to tax-cuts) and resist considering creative mesaures for reform -- like voluntary, individual social security accounts -- that have the potential to permanently lower inefficient government spending.

We can't afford these tax cuts idiot!

Posted by: George Serrano at February 18, 2006 9:40 AM


Why can't we "afford" them? Are you a madman? Think about what you are saying.

The power to tax is a privilege bestowed upon the government by the people for the benefit of the people.

Today’s federal government has become an uncontrolled and voracious money sucking and money wasting tsunami that is rolling up trillions in public debt even as we speak. Washington’s bloated bureaucracy is totally inefficient and the taxes we pay are wasted on corporate welfare and “programs” designed to provide great sums of our hard earned money to special interests and the creation of PR hooks for our elected officials so they can tell us constituents how many millions of our dollars they brought back to us. This is a sham and is not how our government was designed to work.

When you and your society of self serving not public serving tax and spend collaborators are purged, then and only then will the tide subside and true productivity and freedom prevail.

The very idea of using “we can’t afford these tax cuts” as a stated position, let alone actually making the statement publicly is grounds for accusing you of treason if not insanity.

This is the very reason Chafee needs to be replaced with a man who understands that efficiency comes first not taxation. Laffey is just such a man.

J Mahn

Posted by: Joe Mahn at February 18, 2006 10:20 AM

You are absolutely right.

There is no greater issue we face as a nation/planet than the holocaust of human abortion. Sadly this issue is so divisive and passion filled that many on the right are reluctant to dive into the public debate.

The proponents of human abortion will not escape the historical facts that continue to surface in study after study. Abortion kills a human being and the men and women who choose this path are finding themselves in physical and emotional pain because of it.

Galatians 6:7 Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap.

The people of RI have a long pro-life history. There is only one US Senate candidate who stands on the side of life- Steve Laffey.


Posted by: ProLifeMan at February 18, 2006 10:44 AM

Read the attached link for the best review of Chafee's position as a "conservative"


Posted by: Larry Dallas at February 21, 2006 9:04 AM

“Best Intentions”

Beginning in 1999 when he took office after he fathers untimely passing, Senator Lincoln Chafee has taken criticism from both voters and members of the Republican Party. He has been referred to as a liberal Republican who lacks backbone when it comes to supporting major Republican legislations and nominations. Specifically, President Bush’s tax Cut, the War in Iraq, and the nomination of now Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito. Senator Chafee has described himself as a Pro Choice, Pro Environmental and Pro Bill Of Rights Republican. He has established himself as a Senator who will base decisions on what he believes is in the best interest of the state.

I believe that before people criticize Senator Chafee’s actions they should focus on the intention of the founding fathers and the phrase “Pro Bill of Rights” When the Constitutional Convention convened in Philadelphia in 1787 a two sided debate was argued. The federalist’s argued for a Bill of Right and a strong national government and the Anti federalists argued for no Bill of Rights and stronger state rights. In arguing for a Bill of Rights in “Federalist 55” Alexander Hamilton wrote “ That they be taken from a class of citizens which will sympathize least with the masses of people.” What Hamilton stated was that the representatives consist of intelligent people who will act in the best interest of the government and people, even when the people do not agree with the action taken. Senator Chafee’s actions and decisions are consistent with the framers intentions.

Rejecting the nomination of Samuel Alito strengthens Senator Chafee stance on being Pro Bill of Rights. Samuel Alito is a judge who argued that women had to inform their spouse that they were to undergo an abortion, he has indicated that he would be the architect who will overturn Roe v. Wade and he has indicated that Fourth Amendment protection of search and seizure should be weakened. There is little doubt that Judge Alito will slowly demolish the American values that many patriots died to establish. Senator Lincoln Chafee is one of the few who fights for American values. He decides decisions based on what he believes is in the States best interest, not his own. Come November, vote Chafee.

Posted by: Spirit of 1776 at February 24, 2006 9:50 PM

Spirit of 1776 (or should we say 1984):

The Federalist Papers of Hamilton, Jay and Madison should not even be mentioned on a blog. There isn't enough space to cover all the variables and nuances those documents contain. You are really reaching.

Trying to connect this voluminous series of revolutionary essays to Chafee's actions is perhaps analogous to going to the beach at East Matunuk, scooping up a thimble of seawater and then saying you have the Atlantic Ocean in the thimble.

If you are trying to equate Chafee's actions and decisions with those of Hamilton's "class of citizens that sympathize least with the masses of people," by virtue of his stated "independence" might I point out that that "intelligence" is also required in these decisions. In that regard Chafee remains suspect. I just don't see him as intelligent at all, and class… he is shallow there too.

On the Alito nomination Chafee is a lost sheep when compared to Hamilton or Alito for that matter. Where is the dissonance between Alito's stance and the BOR? It does not exist my friend.

Finally, you are showing your true colors when you say Alito's positions "demolish the American values that many patriots died to establish." Your mother should wash out your mouth with soap. If you are an adult you should be institutionalized for the crime of impersonating an American.

This is another poor attempt at trying to prop up a man who doesn't know his right from his left.


Posted by: Sol Venturi at February 26, 2006 9:41 PM

A TRUE AMERICAN respects the views of others even if they are at odds with their own. This is what the Founding Fathers wanted when they ratified the Constitution and Bill of Rights.

Also, you mention that people should not mention the Federalist Papers on a blog... are you scared that someone might make an intelligent comment that you can't respond to? Please grow up and then we can talk.

Posted by: An American at March 1, 2006 3:59 PM