I like the general theme of Sullivan’s bit about the meaninglessness of labels with respect to modern Republicans. However, this is simply wrong.
Income tax rates are now lower than they were under Ronald Reagan and far lower than they were under Eisenhower. And yet it has become a Norquistian non-negotiable that no taxes can be raised at all on anyone[…]
Republicans will gladly increase taxes on poor people. Republicans will annul tax credits that favor the poor even faster.
You cannot predict Republican behavior with any single principle. Full stop. For one example, take Newt Gingrich (please). Or look at the Affordable Care Act. Orrin Hatch cosponsored essentially the same bill in the 90’s and defended it until the week when Obama embraced it as a compromise plan. Now he says it is worse than Hitler. Mitt Romney implemented the plan in Massachussetts, and it’s working great! Just don’t ask Mitt to defend his greatest achievement. He won’t. As another example, take any issue that Mitt Romney ever spoke about more than once.
True, virtually everything they fight for will make the rich more secure or subdue the not-rich, but not always, and certainly not if it means that they agree with something that a Democrat proposed first.
And there, my friends, is the main difference between Republicans today and the people Sullivan used to know and love. Once upon a time the GOP would gladly cross the aisle and work with Democrats to screw the poor. Now even that exalted goal must take a backseat to petty displays of spite by loud, stupid bigots like Richard Shelby, John Kyl and Jim DeMint. What was once a genteel agreement to slowly throttle the working class has devolved into a naked gibbering scramble for the bundle of fasces, and that just won’t do.