David Frum has seen his views on economic policy diverge from the mainstream of the Republican party and the ideological “right wing”, so much so he has quit the radio program “Marketplace”, because he feels guilty about not being more of a typical Republican. Robert Reich points out, of course, his job is to give his most honest assessment of reality, not to be a token Republican on the radio, but Frum sees the divergence as severe enough to nudge him out of a position that requires conservative economic commentary.
Frum said the following to “Marketplace” host Kai Risdal:
This is not a moment for government to be cutting back. … Right now we’re watching state governments try to balance all of their budgets at the same time in the middle of this crisis. We’ve seen half a million public sector jobs disappear. Now, if these were good times, I would applaud that. We need to see a thinner public sector — especially at the state and local level. But we’re seeing what happens when you do that as an anti-recession measure and you make the recession worse. And even though we’re in a technical recovery, incomes and employment — all of that remains lagging for people — I think that we’ve rediscovered in this crisis something that I think we all knew. Which is, there’s a reason why the people of the 1930s built some kind of minimum guarantee — unemployment insurance, health care coverage and things like that. And it’s not because they wanted to be nice. It’s because in a crisis when people lose their jobs, if there is no social safety net they loose 100 percent of their purchasing power.
This illustrates his departure from the political ideology of the current Republican party leadership, but as Robert Reich points out: ‘It so happens the vast majority of economists and economic policy experts agree with David on this — even though you wouldn’t know it if you watched or listened to broadcast debates between a so-called “liberal” and “conservative” economists.’
David Frum’s intellectually honest approach to the economic crisis may separate him from many self-styled right-of-center pundits and pols, but that doesn’t mean his views should be marginalized. Reasonable people who refuse to be led into darkness by blind allegiance to dogma need to stand up to failed reasoning, and do us all the service of making reason resonate.