Social Question

janbb's avatar

In times of fiscal austerity, how much difference do you think it makes whether liberals or conservatives are at the reins?

Asked by janbb (54405points) May 12th, 2010

I am thinking of the impact that the Tories will have on England , and also of my own state of New Jersey where Chris Christie, a Republican, is now Governor. Both entities are in dire financial straits. Do liberals and conservatives have fundamentally different approaches to financial austerity or is the answer in all cases just slashing spending? (I am being slightly disingenuous here to provoke discussion.)

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15 Answers

tranquilsea's avatar

I think the only difference may be in what gets slashed. Here in Canada, conservatives are much more likely to slash social programmes and the liberals a little less so.

marinelife's avatar

I think the answer to that is that when the deficit was reduced and we had a balanced budget last, it was under Democratic President Bill Clinton.

Also, the largest deficit increases in history occurred during the Bush Administrations.

Dr_Lawrence's avatar

I think the Liberals would take more account of the adverse impacts of the many necessary cuts to public services on the lower income citizens would than the Tories who would be more concerned with the impacts on the richest and most powerful movers and shakers in the business community.

anartist's avatar

Everyone tries for the middle of the road these days. I would cleave to the individuals I believe are doing or can do the best job and ignore party lines. That being said, I trust the perspicacity of Barack Obama.

Nullo's avatar

Sometimes I wish that they’d let me do the slashing.
I’m qualified! I kill processes in the Task Manager all the time!

Ron_C's avatar

I would rather have liberals in charge. The are less likely to start new wars, more likely to shift money from the military industrial complex towards domestic and social issues. Of course, they’re still politicians and easily purchased.

jeanmay's avatar

Sorry it’s a bit long.

Many believe that public spending cuts will lead to higher unemployment, which is what happened in the early eighties. This is counter-productive to economic recovery, as it means an increased drain on resources and a general feeling of unease amongst consumers. New Labour conceded that cuts need to be made and will at some point, though not as quickly as the new government is planning. David Cameron (cleverly) sought to distance himself from the Thatcher years by suggesting public spending cuts would be more measured than under Thatcher. In reality I think his cuts will be greater, and have a worse effect. He has commented that the situation now is much more serious than during the Thatcher years, suggesting he intends to go further than her administration in trying to slash public deficit. This article talks about the dangers of cuts in public spending in relation to economic recovery: namely that the public deficit is necessary for increased tax revenues.

The bottom line seems to be that both Gordon Brown and David Cameron have ‘spun’ themselves so far from the party line in an attempt to win over voters, that there is considerable confusion over their policies on public spending cuts. Is Gordon Brown really centre-left? Possibly, but not as centre-left as Tony Blair was. Is David Cameron really going to lead the Conservatives toward a more liberal political territory? Dear me no, but he’d like us to think it, and now he’s made a deal with the Lib Dems he can certainly claim on the surface to be more progressive.

To me, it’s a no-brainer: New Labour seemed to offer a glimmer of hope, where a Con-Lib government would seem to spell disaster for our economy.

As for the US, I agree with @marinelife that it appears your average American had it better historically under a Democratic government than they ever did with the Republicans in power. My husband agrees.

wonderingwhy's avatar

I think there’s a significance difference in how each side goes about their effort to reign in the deficit but both can meet with success if they have the political clout and will to do what ought be done to correct the problem. Particularly if they are willing to compromise and admit when their efforts are misguided.

Nullo's avatar

@Ron_C Social issues always struck me as being massive money sinks.

Ron_C's avatar

@Nullo if social programs are money sinks, what are military expenditures? We have hit the trillion dollar mark on the illegal Iraq and Iran wars. I guess that was money well spent.

jeanmay's avatar

@Ron_C Couldn’t have said it better myself.

Nullo's avatar

@Ron_C Flexing the muscles now and then has its good points, and it’s the rare country that can survive without a military.
Throwing money into the yawning pit of demand that are social programs doesn’t seem to accomplish anything.
We are not at war with Iran, and there’s nothing terribly illegal about the Iraq war – which has been technically over for some time now – , either.
I see the whole concept of legality of wars or in wars as being nothing short of ludicrous. War represents a breakdown of the systems of law, politics and diplomacy; force is now the only avenue left for a nation’s governing body to enforce its will.

Ron_C's avatar

@Nullo I mispoke about war with Iran, I meant Afghanistan, we would have gone there if Bush was still president.

The real source of our problems is our nation building. I am ambivalent about Afghanistan. If, after 9–11 we went in toppled the Taliban and captured or killed Bin Laden, then left; that would have been acceptable. There was no reason for the war in Iraq.

mattbrowne's avatar

One important reason why one particular species of anthropomorphic primates survived was their social behavior addressing social issues. The species is called homo sapiens by the way. Talk about massive money sinks. The anti-social subspecies went extinct. Maybe a few of them survived after all.

A severe crisis requires fiscal austerity no matter who’s in charge. But we should never become so blind as to be willing to sacrifice our very humanity.

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