Friday, July 05, 2013

An Interesting Theory

(Editorial cartoon by Mike Luckovich and published 6/25/13 by the Atlanta Journal Constitution.)

The Los Angeles Times had an interesting article which suggested that the current split in the Republican Party is driven, at least to some extent, by the difference in age amongst various members.

Lawmakers in Congress are voting more often along party lines. But within the ranks of Republicans, there is growing evidence of voting along age lines.

The generational split, fueled by a surge in young lawmakers who won seats in recent elections, has been emerging on a number of tax and spending bills, including last year's transportation funding bill and this year's pending farm bill.

And that divide may be deeper even than differences over Tea Party issues, now that most Republicans in Congress are conservative.

"Clearly, as a group, the younger members coming in the last two or three classes have been more ideologically conservative … than most of the older members," said Norman J. Ornstein, a congressional expert at the American Enterprise Institute, a Washington think tank. ...

No legislation, however, has brought the generational divide into focus more clearly than the Internet sales tax bill, which would allow states to require larger online retailers to collect sales taxes from customers as bricks-and-mortar merchants must do.

Senate Republicans split nearly evenly on the legislation, with most older members supporting it and younger ones in opposition. ...

Veteran lawmakers — that is, older ones — are more inclined to support conventional retailers arguing for a level playing field and to back their state and local officials, who want to generate more revenue without raising tax rates.

Younger members, many of whom are Washington newcomers, tend to back Internet companies such as online auction site EBay Inc. in opposing the measure as an undue burden on online retailers and an expansion of a state's taxing authority outside its borders.   [Emphasis added]

Although the AEI analysis may be correct, I still find that rather surprising.  What Ornstein seems to be saying is that such younger members, because they are more comfortable with the "new" way of doing business (the internet, in the example given), such congressmen as Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) and Rep. Steve Womack (R-Ark.) are perfectly willing to sell out the brick-and-mortar businesses on the Main Streets of their districts to trim down government.  That doesn't sound very astute to me.

It would, however, explain some of the gridlock in the 113th Congress, which will be perhaps the least productive congress in US history.

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