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Friday, December 9, 2011

What is the Green Republican Coalition Strategy?

This strategy is a complement of the Blue Republican strategy, founded by Robin Koerner. Koerner has eloquently described the very obvious ways that Ron Paul appeals to independent, moderate, libertarian and progressive Democrats. The Blue Republican Facebook page is a place of hospitality and ideas unlike so many highly partisan pages on the net.

Koerner is a classical liberal Brit on his way to becoming an American citizen. His form  of liberalism looks very close to Ron Paul's libertarianism, and like that of Ron Paul's, is totally consistent.  I have yet to find any disagreement he has with Ron Paul on policy.

Koerner and I have been carrying on a friendly debate. We agree that Ron Paul is right on ending the wars and occupations we are in and bringing home troops from bases around the world. We also agree that Ron Paul is the only major Republican candidate who has taken very seriously the farewell speech warning of President Eisenhower concering the dangerous threat of the military industrial complex.  We believe that we are spending far too much on needless and often counter-productive weapons and weapon systems and that this is causing tremendous harm to our economy and to our constitutional representative democracy.

Finally, we agree with Paul that the Patriot Act is a menace to a free society and anything but patriotic. Civil liberties and constitutional rights have been greatly diminished under both Bush and Obama and its time for the American people to take those liberties and rights back from the corporate political duopoly which has stolen them.

Where we part company is on economic issues. While progressives like myself and Dennis Kucinich are in agreement with Ron Paul that the Federal Reserve has got to go, we want it replaced by congressional control of the creation of money and of the regulation of our monetary system. We also agree that we need to do something about national, business and personal debt but we think that the private banking system is a major part of the problem and that deregulation in general (though maybe not in all details) plays right into the hands of the usury factory and debtor slavery paradigm.

Koerner and I have talked very little about taxes. With other libertarians in general, I have yet to find much common ground on taxes other than we agree that the majority of Americans are paying too much. Libertarians, unfortunately seem to think the top 1 percent need more tax reductions; we progressives think they can weather a minor increase and still not go out of business or start laying off more workers than they already have.

It concerns us progressives that Ron Paul does not like Social Security or Medicare but it relieves us to know he does not want to end full benefits for those already in the system and that he is willing to take money out of the military industrial catastrophe's several empire building and maintenance budgets and use it to shore up entitlements and the social safety net too many have become dependent upon. But here is is precisely the place that the Green Republican strategy diverges from the Blue Republican strategy (although I have yet to hear either Koerner or Paul reject this idea outright):

Ron Paul wants to shore up entitlements and social safety nets with savings from cuts in spending on militarism for two important reasons. First, he is a moral human being and he knows that, despite his philosophical objection to a system of government entitlements, pulling the rug out from under people who are dependent upon programs they have paid for with their own hard earned money would be morally indefensible.

Second, Ron Paul wants to transition our economy and our entitlement system. He knows this cannot happen overnight and so he has put forth an opt out proposal which will allow people 25 years and under to not pay payroll taxes and not receive social security, medicare and medicaid benefits.

Ron Paul is to be commended for being honest about the need to keep Social Security and Medicare solvent and for proposing a fiscally responsible way of paying for it. He also deserves to be commended (and his libertarian enthusiasts need to hear this) for his willingness to compromise. That's a dirty word for many libertarians and progressives, but Ron Paul has demonstrated by this example that one can compromise on policy choices without compromising one's principles.

Having set that precedent, the Green Republican strategy asks Ron Paul to modify his compromise. His opt out proposal should get a fair hearing in congress and before the American people, but we object to it strongly because we believe that it will ultimately undermine the long standing covenant we as a country have made with seniors and persons living with disabilities. We have no doubt that this opt out proposal, being paid for, would not in the short term undermine the government's ability to pay beneficiaries their full benefits.

However, if young people respond to this proposal myopically, as it is almost certain many of them will, many of them will also live to regret it, and our society will have a huge price to pay for their inability to take care of themselves if the economy suddenly tanks just before they retire. Progressives believe it is far better to have a mixed economy system for retirement than to have all one's eggs in either only the social security basket or in only the private investment basket. Far wiser and safer to have both!

We also believe that given a full airing of the risks and benefits of Paul's opt out proposal, it will not make it out of congress to his desk for signature.  Ron Paul needs to tell us and his base what he intends to do if this proposal fails to become law. He has promised to put half of the savings from reductions in spending on militarism into shoring up these entitlements and social safety nets.

What happens if there is no opt out provision? Will these funds still be channeled into entitlements? Believe it or not, progressives would probably agree with libertarians that such action would actually overfund entitlements. I do not think Ron Paul wants that to happen. I am almost certain that Paul would prefer, in this likely scenario, to direct those funds to deeper tax cuts and more debt reduction. We might be able to stomach a little of that if the debt reduction does not involve more cuts in domestic spending and the tax cuts are heavily weighted towards the bottom and middle, but we ain't gonna swallow the whole enchilada.

The Green Republican Strategy would be to redirect those funds toward building, repairing and greening our transportation, energy, environmental, educational and communication infrastructure. We realize that also may be an enchilada too big for Ron Paul to swallow. So here's the Green Republican compromise: send that money in the form of block grants back to the states according only to each state's population and with only one requirement: clearly and publicly report in print and online where every dollar goes. If some states want to use that money to give tax breaks to oil slurpers, let them. If some states want to use that money to fund single payer health care and high speed rail, go ahead. Let the state laboratory experiments begin.

I think that with agreed upon reductions in corporate welfare and military adventurism,  we can free up at least 400 billion annually with half being used for debt reduction and half being sent to the states. We could probably add at least another 200 billion to this 50% formula by negotiating real tax reform and consolidation of cabinet departments.

Putting 300 billion or more annually into the hands of state and local governments may not be ideal from ether progressive or libertarian perspectives, but it would definitely be better than what either Obama II or Romney I is offering.

Politically speaking, if Ron Paul were to accept the Green Republican proposal, it would be a very minor adjustment in his platform but a gigantic political move. Doing this and promising to hire a real coalition cabinet would mean millions of progressives flooding his way overnight. Both major parties would tremble and their establishment leaders would go into full panic mode. Principled leftists would be without excuse; they would have to endorse Ron Paul or drop the adjective. The GOP convention would have to reject or nominate a candidate who has won a clear plurality and perhaps even a majority of primary votes.

Ron Paul entitles one of his books, Revolution. This modest proposal of the Green Republican Strategy will make it happen. Every progressive, independent and libertarian American who's half awake knows we need one. And yes we can, with just a little principled compromise, do it.


  1. This is very well written. As a libertarian and of the Austrian School, you're right on with giving the money to the states. However, they should collect it through their own taxes. I'm way more progressive at a state and local level. We also should use any surplus towards debt.

  2. Thanks Joe.
    I recognize why you would want those taxes collected at the state and local level and maybe you are right that this would be more efficient. This would would however be a deal breaker for progressives. We may be wrong about our conviction that some or many states would not or could not collect enough revenue to do what their people want and need to be done.

    Would you be willing to do this for 4 years and then in the 2016 election, let the American people determine whether they want to go in a different or the same direction? In other words, for four years only, use half of the surplus for debt reduction and half for block grants conditioned only by population and reporting the use of the funds.

    You might see that as progressives still having our way but from our perspective, we would, in an uncompromising way, use the entire surplus for infrastructure until the national unemployment rate fell below 5% and then use half of the surplus for debt reduction until we had completed all infrastructure projects. And after we get to full employment if we have a surplus we cut taxes from the bottom up.

    (I know this seems like obviously absurd policy and maybe you are right...Just trying to get you to see the political reality that prevents either of of our sides getting any of our way.... We have been divided and conquered for way to long.)

    If we made this temporary compromise for 4 years the American people could observe which states' policies created the most stable and productive jobs. Perhaps, Texas reduces its taxes deeply and makes very modest infrastructure investment with user fees. California, on the other hand keeps their taxes high and spends their share on infrastructure projects.

    Continuing the hypothetical... This results in Texas producing lots more jobs than California and the wages, salaries and benefits of the jobs being roughly equal to the few government jobs created by California. In addition Texas has a higher revenue stream with their lower taxes. The American people see this trend nationwide and in 2016 Libertarians sweep a super majority of all federal, state and local political offices.

    Living with this less than ideal 4 year compromise would be a small price to pay to prove to the American people that Austrian economics is superior to Keynesianism.

    I recognize the caveat that you tend to be more progressive at local and state levels. If more libertarians thought like you we would probably not need to have this or any compromise. We could strip down the federal government to its bare bones and let the states and localities take care of themselves.

    Perhaps this 4 year compromise will prove that states that go laissez faire produce a lot of wealth but few stable and well compensate jobs.

    Meanwhile states that go completely progressive create lots of safe, stable and well paying jobs but do nothing to clean up their own fiscal messes thus they have no revenue to fund any of these good jobs after the 4 years.

    Finally, states with a balance of libertarian and progressive governments find ways to create good jobs that are mostly private sector while they cut wasteful spending in their state and local governments, thus creating an ongoing surplus to finish projects and have a just means of collecting sufficient revenues going forward.

    My main point is: let the 50% block grants/50% debt reduction compromise stand as it is and Ron Paul gets the flood of progressives he needs to win. If not, he goes down in the corporate history books as another interesting extremist who ran for president 3 times.

    What say you? Can I get you to pinch your nose and sign on the dotted line?

    Thanks again for the feedback.

    1. While I like the idea of a coalition and finding common ground, many of us believe that some of your assumptions are flawed. We believe that we are MUCH worse off than most realize. With a global economic downturn around the corner with a massive devaluation of the dollar, and the deficit now higher than the government's annual revenue (and climbing), and with unfunded liabilities possibly topping 100+ Trillion, means that the premise itself doesn't hold up.

      The idea that we are "negotiating" over how to spend a surplus assumes that there in fact IS a surplus. We could take 100% of our military budget (which I don't recommend) and it still wouldn't be enough to break even on our deficit, let alone make a dent on the national debt. The INTEREST alone is the 3rd largest line item on our budget.

      Yes, of course if there was a massive surplus there would be a lot more room to negotiate and many of your ideas are reasonable or at the very least open the door for a very meaningful dialogue.

      There is of course the libertarian and constitutional view that many of these issues should be solved locally by communities and the government has no authority to tell us what to do and how to live under the Constitution... but even if we were to put that philosophical belief aside it wouldn't matter. We are MUCH worse off fiscally than you predict.

      We are heading over a cliff at 100mph. We can now see the edge on the horizon. Romney or Gingrich might slow us down to 90mph (though it is entirely possible they speed us up too, who knows). A compromise might slow us down to 50mph or lower. In political terms that would be seen as a great win, right? Unfortunately it is just kicking the can down the road and delaying the inevitable. Many of us want a president to stop the darn train from going over the cliff! Whether this means slamming on the brakes or bringing us to a "transitional" stop, it doesn't matter. But there MUST be a plan to completely reverse course in 4 years because all you can ever count on is what you can do in your term. You never know what the next president will do.

      So even if we cut our all waste, the military spending overseas, and all earmarks. It will not be enough without completely overhauling the welfare state. Again, this isn't just a philosophical issue. It is unsustainable. The country is effectively insolvent.

      So, while these compromises work in theory (and I applaud the effort) they don't hold up to the economic reality that our unfunded liabilities CAN NOT be paid for.

      Then there is the idea of just taxing the rich because "they can afford it". I agree that the rich (which seems to have a lose definition these days) should not pay LESS than other Americans but they shouldn't pay MORE either. Do we teach our kids to go steal from a neighbor because you want something and they can "afford it"? No. We used to point to that neighbor with the nice car or house and say "see, if you work hard, are persistent there is no telling what you could achieve." Now being success is looked down upon and in fact PUNISHED.

      But let's go a step further. EVEN IF you taxed everyone making 1 million+ at 100% of their income it STILL wouldn't be enough. Again, if you don't overhaul our welfare state none of it will matter. Everything else is just tinkering around the edges and bickering over the fine print.

      Maybe this means we don't win the election. But from our perspective it is do or die. The situation is too great. There isn't enough runway left to make a wide, slow turn. Meaning, if we lose we go over the cliff. If we win but compromise we'll go over the cliff anyway just at a slower rate.

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. Hmmm, it's funny to me that the MODERATE, as in "anything is excess is generally bad," would seem to make the most sense. Somehow everyone gets painted as staunchly left or right when somehow no1 ralizes how linear and shortighted that is. I too am a devout libertarian, but at the Federal level. If you go libertarian all the way accross the board you turn around and there is almost no govnt left and well that I am afraid will never work.

    I have to admit, a seemingly balanced and thoughtful compromise like this should garner the most support from both sides of the aisle not just Libertarians/Progressives.

    And I must comment on how refreshing it is to actually hear some1 talk about the testing grounds that are the state Govts. I believe that to be one of the greatest strengths of our Nation, but it seems that this growing federalism within our electorate/populace forgets how this thing ran for nearly 150 years...

  5. Elusive_Quaker,
    thanks for the comment and your insight. I have always thought that the compromises i have offered here are moderate and principled for both progressives and libertarians. I believe that if Ron Paul can make a strong showing at the convention, hopefully having a plurality of votes and delegates, the GOP can be exposed as the establishment control party that it is. And with this, progressive leaders across the nation can come on board in a coalition candidacy. Such a coalition can expose both parties for the corporatists that they are and maybe set our nation on a better course.

  6. Great essay, makes a lot of sense to me. I have my critiques of Ron Paul, but we gotta get him in there. I hope he takes your proposal seriously.

    1. John,
      I don't think he has...if he has ever even heard of it.

  7. There are four issues so basic, universal, and important to human wellness, fairness, peace and prosperity that most individuals will agree upon and on which we ought to unite to effect positive change - ending government wars, protecting human rights to due process and against unreasonable searches and seizures, ending corporate subsidies and similar crony capitalism, and auditing, if not ending, the Fed. These are the positions promoted for so many decades by independents, Libertarians, Greens, constitutionalists, and even a few politicians, like Ron Paul, Dennis Kucinich, Ralph Nader and Gary Johnson.

    United on these principles we can achieve terrific benefits for mankind.

  8. Thank you John Friend and PromoteLiberty...I really hope we can make this coalition happen. I'd like to see a number of people sending this particular post to Kucinich, Nader, Sanders, Feingold and several other progressive politicians. They need to start talking with Paul right now. And Gary Johnson needs to endorse Paul again if Paul is in the general election. I wish the Libertarian party would nominate Paul so his name could be on the ballot twice. And if he chose a progressive as a running mate, the Green party could also nominate him. That would get people thinking when they go into the voting booth. The sad irony is the two major parties get most of the votes but in reality represent the interests of maybe 10% of the population.

  9. Miamizsun, What about your friends? Do you think they would go for it?

  10. I am a libertarian who believes that it is my human right not to be forced into corrupt social-program tax slavery. However, Cornelius, if the opt-out were to fall flat, I'd be very pleased to move forward with the approach you describe above. I think the block grant idea is a stroke of Federalist genius!

  11. Elliot, It pleases me to hear you say yes to this plan and I think that progressives would jump at it with joy if Ron Paul proposed it. I am also thinking there might be a way to have both the opt out and the block grants. I think there is another post I wrote on this. Oh yeah...here it is: http://progressivesforronpaul.blogspot.com/2011/12/opt-out-with-public-option-possible.html

  12. I have personally recovered from the notion that any compromise regarding libertarianism undermines the whole movement. All things in moderation. Let my mind and body free, and for goodness' sake let's clean up this lovely planet and protect those who are dependent. Further, given the current environment, any change of ideas toward the lights that are liberty and responsibility is as refreshing as a sunrise. Only a coalition of good can win, and this reads like you've thought up agood coalition, and Dr. Paul is a good man. I'm going to do my part, whatever way I can. Thanks.

    1. SNazzar,
      Sorry for being so long in replying. I wish there were more people on both the progressive and the libertarian sides like you. Maybe this campaign would have gone better.

  13. If you read through Ron Paul's platform, he already proposes block grants for states to fund things like infrastructure.

    As far as progressive mentality at the local level, that is entire permissible under a Ron Paul presidency, because he believes in local governance, and progressives would have more influence at the local level as it is.

    As per entitlements, Ron Paul wants to phase out the Federal Reserve not through just cutting the system and making everyone suffer the change. He wants to simply get rid of the legal tender monopoly and remove the laws that label you a domestic terrorist if you start minting your own money or whatnot (see Liberty Dollar founder, for example). He wants the fed to be leashed by competition. The poor benefit from this greatly, because their savings are axed by devaluation and those on fixed incomes stand to benefit the most.

    I think coalitions are going to be the most important factor in the next era of the US. But RP's largest hurdle is the primary nomination - if he can land that the path actually gets smoother from there.

  14. Derek,
    Yes...one has to read through Ron Paul's platform. That's the problem Most people will not, and that's why I think he needs to make block grants a front a center issue and put a dollar figure on it and tell the people how he wants to divide it. I have suggested that he do this based strictly on population of states with states being free to use the funds as they wish as long as they report it online.

    All parties are coalitions that have been around for more than a generation. If libertarians allowed for this temporary population based grants, this could be phased out over time with diminishing matching grants. If progressives saw in that process that libertarians would not block (perhaps) cooperate with) progressive measures at state and local levels, libertarians could see federal interference fade away forever.

    I believe that if progressives can be allowed to collect revenue in a progressive fashion at the state and local levels and use it for things like public transportation, we will be happy to let the federal government shrink below 15% or even much less of GNP.

    Getting over the nomination hurdle is not going to happen if the outreach to progressives is merely propaganda and hospitality based purely on issues we already agree on. Ron Paul needs to double the votes he is getting and that will only happen if he begins right away to build this real coalition.