There remains no room for independent thinking within the conservative movement.  Being a good liberal doesn’t require that you believe (or pretend to believe) lots of things almost certainly aren’t true; but being a good conservative does.

-Paul Krugman, Nobel Prize-winning economist

images-152Krugman says that conservatives who acknowledge the connection between humans and global warming, or who oppose austerity and favor tax increases for the rich, for example, often find themselves disowned by the conservative movements.

Krugman has written before that there are some issues in which there is little room for debate because the evidence is overwhelmingly in favor of one side, and yet conservatives continue to argue in favor of the opposite.  “The closed bubble they live in, comprised of FOX News and the like, allows them to continue to believe the things they want to believe, instead of the things that are true.”

In one example, he responded to critics of his stance against government belt-tightening by writing “maybe I actually am right,” in an April blog post.

By the way, more people may be starting to take up Krugman’s anti-austerity stance. The evidence against austerity 105525-Austerity-Failure-by-Paresh-Nath-The-Khaleej-Times-UAEis in fact so overwhelming that a few conservatives have voiced their opposition. But as Krugman and New York Magazine’s Jonathan Chait note, the most outspoken critics like conservative Bloomberg columnist Josh Barro have had to pay the price, becoming disavowed by the movement as a whole.

What the conservative critics of the reformists within their ranks may be surprised to learn though, is that some of their very idols went against the dogma they’re espousing today. Former British Prime Minister and conservative icon Margaret Thatcher actually raised taxes, violating a major tenet of the current conservative movement. In fact, taxes as a share of the economy increased during her tenure.

images-150In addition, former President Ronald Reagan, a GOP hero, enacted the largest tax increase in four decades, according to Joseph J. Thorndike, the director of the Tax History Project at Tax Analyst. Reagan was able to obscure the increases though by giving them a different name: “revenue enhancements,” which came from closing loopholes in the tax code.

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