creators.com opinion web
Liberal Opinion Conservative Opinion
Froma Harrop
Froma Harrop
2 Sep 2014
The 'Spiral of Silence'

With folks yapping all day on social media — Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus and the rest — how … Read More.

28 Aug 2014
The Smallness of Being in Economy Class

Americans are in the dumps about their future. What does that have to do with legroom in economy class? Everything. … Read More.

26 Aug 2014
What About That VA Hospital Scandal?

The unofficial end of summer, Labor Day, may serve as a bookend to a scandal that exploded around the … Read More.

If the Iron Lady Watched the Republican Debates ...

Comment

It's a good thing that the Margaret Thatcher we remember isn't running for president as a Republican. A conservative icon, she would nonetheless be tarred today as a "big government liberal," "raiser of taxes," "European socialist" and RINO, which stands for Republican in Name Only.

The biographical movie "Iron Lady" centers on Thatcher's late-life mental decline and flashes back only to the big scenes in her political career. This is entertainment, and so the movie understandably zeros in on her hectoring speeches, the great election night victory, terrorist attacks and, above all, the romance with her husband, Denis, who died in 2003. Meryl Streep wasn't hired to play Thatcher conducting dry discussions of Europe's Exchange Rate Mechanism — though if any actress could make that cinematic, Streep could.

Someone, an American perhaps, should do a movie about Thatcher's less pictorial brand of conservatism. Like her American ally Ronald Reagan, also eventually claimed by Alzheimer's, Thatcher saw her mission as reversing years of liberal excess rather than radically remaking the social compact.

Thatcher didn't believe that tax cuts would automatically pay for themselves with economic growth. That's why she combined reducing Britain's income-tax rates with a significantly higher value-added tax. A VAT is a kind of national sales tax. Thatcher explained the move as shifting taxation from earnings to spending. This was tax code surgery, not exorcism powered by magical thinking.

Reagan's 1986 tax reform paired reductions in income-tax rates to ending the tax break for capital gains. (The capital gains tax has since been lowered to 15 percent.) When deficits started rising dramatically, Reagan faced the music and raised taxes 11 times, taking back half of his tax cut.

In current GOP presidential politics, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney has toyed with the idea of a VAT-like system as part of larger reform.

Here is the response offered by former House Speaker Newt Gingrich's campaign spokesman: "The fact that he's willing to look at European socialism shows just how far out of the conservative mainstream he is."

Republican foes of government guaranteed health coverage habitually refer to "Obamacare" as "socialized medicine." It is no such thing. The health care system envisioned by the reforms is far more conservative than Medicare. And Medicare isn't socialized medicine, either: It is socialized insurance. The government picks up the bills, but doctors and hospitals still work for themselves.

Britain's National Health Service is socialized medicine. The providers do work for the government. And Thatcher barely touched a hair on it. Moreover, she defended it with passion. In her book "Margaret Thatcher: the Downing Street Years," she wrote this: "I believed that the NHS was a service of which we could genuinely be proud. It delivered a high quality of care — especially when it came to acute illnesses — and at a reasonably modest unit cost, at least compared with some insurance-based systems."

Thatcher dealt harshly with militant unions that were bankrupting the country with strikes and exorbitant demands. The battles many U.S. governors, Republican and Democrat, are now waging with public-employee unions are but a shadow of her showdowns. Her mission, she said, was merely to restore balance between business and organized labor. She also removed disincentives to work in Britain's extravagant welfare programs, while leaving them intact.

Today's GOP base would brand these measures as weak-willed capitulation. And it would condemn a Thatcher-like candidate as a "Republican moderate."

Wonder what the Iron Lady would think watching the Republican debates, if her mind were all there. Thatcher would probably laugh, recalling how she'd have loved to have been called a "moderate" in the days of heavy lifting that made her a conservative hero.

To find out more about Froma Harrop, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate web page at www.creators.com.

COPYRIGHT 2012 THE PROVIDENCE JOURNAL CO.

DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS.COM



Comments

1 Comments | Post Comment
If you think Obamacare conservative (IT IS NOT EVEN CLOSE TO BEING CONSERVATIVE), you showed your ignorance and need to go research the facts. Medicare is NOT socialized insurance. Medicare is paid for by the hard working Americans so they have medical insurance when they retire. The government DOES NOT picks up the bills. The hard working Americans who have paid into Medicare pays the bills NOT the government. Next time you writ an article make sure you get your facts straight. I will not be the ONLY one to call you on your ignorance and false facts.
Comment: #1
Posted by: Jennifer
Fri Feb 24, 2012 9:07 AM
Already have an account? Log in.
New Account  
Your Name:
Your E-mail:
Your Password:
Confirm Your Password:

Please allow a few minutes for your comment to be posted.

Enter the numbers to the right:  
Creators.com comments policy
More
Froma Harrop
Sep. `14
Su Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa
31 1 2 3 4 5 6
7 8 9 10 11 12 13
14 15 16 17 18 19 20
21 22 23 24 25 26 27
28 29 30 1 2 3 4
About the author About the author
Write the author Write the author
Printer friendly format Printer friendly format
Email to friend Email to friend
View by Month
Ben Shapiro
Ben ShapiroUpdated 3 Sep 2014
Walter Williams
Walter E. WilliamsUpdated 3 Sep 2014
Roger Simon
Roger SimonUpdated 3 Sep 2014

24 Nov 2011 Thanksgivings, Past and Present

15 Jul 2008 Mortgage Scandal a Bipartisan Affair

18 Jun 2009 Timid Obama Succumbs to Old Politics