Dave Brat, What to Make of this Guy?

As I flipped though the New York Times Sunday Magazine, I was shocked to find a full-page interview with Rep. David Brat.  The Times usually does not pay much attention to House freshmen, but Brat has created a high profile for himself by becoming an outspoken member of the “Freedom Caucus” of ultra-right wing Republicans that recently promoted the resignation of Speaker John Boehner of Ohio.

The interview was amazingly short on policy as Brat seemed to want to dwell on his knowledge of philosophy rather than on governing.  The brief outline that he did give of policy consisted of not raising the debt limit, lowering taxes, and bulking up the military. Brat refused to say how he would accomplish these goals, which taken into totality seem to defy simple math. How is he able to lower taxes and hike defense spending, without significant cuts in the rest of the budget? One doesn’t need a PhD in econometrics, to see that the numbers don’t add up: witness the presidency of George W. Bush and the deficit fiasco that followed.

Brat seemed to be critical of popular culture.  In the interview, he bemoaned what he perceived as a paucity of movies “capturing the highlight of Western tradition.” It seems that the congressman has forgotten that the purpose of free speech is to put all ideas in the public sphere.  Spoken by a federal legislator, this type of media criticism is nothing if not disturbing.

Brat, as most economists, is a fan of Adam Smith who in 1776, published Wealth of Nations, which described the fundamental workings of market-based economies, but Brat transforms the questions about the application of Smith’s principals to today’s complex problems into a criticism of European economies. Perhaps Dr. Brat is unfamiliar with the classic article written by Robert Mondell, the theory of optimal currency unions, and compares this work with the European Union’s plan to implement the Euro. Brat, this “scholar–his word”, should compare the present Euro zone that demonstrates the results of the type of austerity that Brat seems to advocate, with low inflation, but near-zero growth and very high rates of unemployment.

This guy should represent Disneyland!

— D. Leslie Schreiber

Nous sommes touts Parisien

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13 responses to “Dave Brat, What to Make of this Guy?”

  1. LarrytheG Avatar

    the Right has got drunk on supply side economics. They are convinced if you cut taxes – you can spend more money for Defense – especially if you cut entitlements!

    Stephen Moore – one of Jim’s favor “economists” and a true believer was apparently one of the folks who encouraged Kansas to cut taxes and demonstrate to the world on high that in doing so – the economy would BOOM!.. and as a result generate MORE taxes – enough to pay for the tax cuts and then some!

    for those who would like to know how it turned out – a few key words for GOOGLE will take you to the here and now. Just cut and paste the following into GOOGLE!

    “Kansas supply side cuts disaster tax increases cuts to education”

    that ought to get one to the nub of the reporting”

    I understand NC is headed down the same fiscal rat hole..

    Brat -here’s the reality. He’s what the voters of the 7th Congressional District of Virginia – want. that’s the truth. it says a lot about the electorate.

  2. Les,

    Perhaps you could forward the NYT article or post it to the blog. I read what was claimed to be a “condensed” version that came up with Google, and I’d rather see the entire article. But based on what I saw, I’ll hazard a guess that Brat’s comments bear no relation at all to what you wrote.

    Just taking your one comment about “Western tradition” films: How do you get from what the article said:

    Q. Would you call yourself a scholar of Ayn Rand?
    A. No, I’m a scholar of economics.
    Q. She helped popularize conservative philosophies through her novels. Do you think there should be more ideologically inspired popular culture?
    A. I don’t even like the word ‘‘ideological.’’ Before the ’60s, that was never a word that had much use. I do wish there were a lot more great films capturing the highlights of the Western tradition. A lot of kids are more visual learners. (from the New York Times website)

    to what you say:
    “Brat seemed to be critical of popular culture. In the interview, he bemoaned what he perceived as a paucity of movies “capturing the highlight of Western tradition.” It seems that the Congressman has forgotten that the purpose of free speech is to put all ideas in the public sphere. Spoken by a federal legislator, this type of criticism of media is nothing if not disturbing.”

    Sorry, I’m not seeing “bemoaned” or anything about his perception in the article. That’s your spin. Then you claim that his remark is against free speech, when it’s absolutely clear that he’s calling for more speech (movies) rather than less speech. Then you say that what was a call for more speech is actually a criticism of media and that it’s “disturbing”.

    There may be more in the NYT article along the lines of your characterization, but I kinda think that if there was, it would not have been left out by the New York Times. If they left it out of their condensed version, what does it say about them? What’s “disturbing” would appear to be your willingness to mischaracterize the statements of others to promote your own agenda. But then, we can let others on this blog review/compare the article language to what you posted and make their own decision on your post. My own opinion: I think that you are a prevaricator of the first order.

    I thought you had given up on this blog because you thought everyone was so confrontational and nasty. You can call me nasty if you like, but I’ll call you out every time you engage in this kind of fraud on your readers. Maybe you should again retire from the blog.

    1. Now, now, Crazy, you were doing great until the last four sentences.

  3. You’re right, Jim. I should have followed my own proposal to leave the conclusions to the reader instead of calling names. I ignored my wife’s admonition to let a sufficient number of hours pass for the propofol to wear off before starting to write anything. In any event, I will retract the last four sentences and apologize to Les.

  4. LarrytheG Avatar

    proud of you Crazy…. 😉

  5. LarrytheG Avatar

    well that’s overboard – less horrified than I was before… better..now..

    1. LarrytheG Avatar

      some sarcasm in my comment about the 7th district.

      The Dems did not have a viable opponent cuz they were expecting Cantor and were caught flat footed – as was the GOP establishment in the primary.

      The fact that the GOP establishment did not challenge Brat with someone different also says something.

      But there is no denying two things:

      1. – most of the geography in the 7th votes about 60% GOP – fairly consistently

      2.- the Dems in Va tend to not “grow” candidates for higher office.

      At our local level in Spotsy – the GOP runs candidates at the BOS level – then those BOS step up to run for HD and State Senate … etc.. there’s a stable of GOP candidates ready to run for higher office.

      The Dems are afraid to call themselves Dems… most of the time.

      is that a fair characterization?

  6. I watched the “debate” between Dave Bratt and Jack Trammell just before the election last year and was stunned to hear that Bratt — seemingly — answered every question, even foreign policy oriented questions, with “repeal Obamacare” and/or “send an economist to congress.”

    It was obvious that Mr. Bratt had little, if any, policy proposals. There was no substance that I could determine. I found myself repeating a political slogan from the 1990s: “Where’s the beef?”

    I feel compelled to disagree with you, Larry, that the seventh district got what it wanted. I just think that Seventh District straight-ticket voters, as straight ticket voters usually do, forgot to bring their brains into their voting booths. They didn’t have, I submit, any true idea of how devoid of thought Mr. Bratt was and, if they had, they’d have elected someone not a thoughtless ideologue.

    1. Those voters opted for Brat over Eric Cantor in the primary, don’t forget.

  7. Peter Galuszka Avatar
    Peter Galuszka

    Interesting piece, Les.. Don’t take the trolls seriously. Here’s my take from the Sunday Post a few weeks ago:


    1. TooManyTaxes Avatar

      Why would anyone take a paper with Fred Hiatt on the payroll seriously? The editorial board lies regularly and refuses to accept corrections?

  8. Yeh, that’s the article I saw. But see at the bottom where it says “interview edited and condensed.” It was with that caveat that I posted. Since I’m not getting any pushback that there was more, I have to stand by my post: Les was playing fast and loose with what was said, whether you like Brat or not.
    Full disclosure: I walked a neighborhood for Brat during the primary because I thought Cantor had begun to drink the Kool-Aid. That said, I’m maybe less pleased than I ought to be with the results. In my mind, he should be helping Ryan sift through the various economic policies to weed out the crap instead of making noise with the Freedom Caucus. I’m not necessarily feeling the love that this is happening. I understand that a candidate is as vague as possible in a general election in order to satisfy the most voters, but this would seem less applicable in a district like the 7th.

    On the other hand, the Demos game is always: “Tell me what YOUR plan is if you don’t like mine,” all the while not revealing their plan or even not having a plan (Witness Obama’s latest laughable use of this trick: “The Republicans don’t have a plan for dealing with ISIS.” The pot is calling the kettle black)

    Larry G: You say (paraphrasing) that “it says something that the GOP establishment didn’t challenge Brat.” What exactly does “it” say?

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