I am currently in the middle of reading the fabulous Grand New Party: How Republicans Can Win the Working Class and Save the American Dream by Ross Douthat and Reihan Salam. It's chock full of interesting economic i deas that Republicans can use to better appeal to working-class voters and families. Among them: massively expanding the tax credit for children, a "GI bill" of tuition tax credits for stay-at-home parents who want to get back into the workforce, and government investment in a better telecommunications infrastructure to boost telecommuting.
Although an interview with Douthat is in the works, I wanted to get his quick take on McCainomics. Here is what Douthat wrote me:
I'm pretty down on the McCain economic agenda, frankly—my sense is that they assume, rightly, that they'll be dealing with large Democratic majorities, which means that nothing they propose will actually have any chance of coming to fruition ... so they've decided to avoid making any tough choices, and instead are promising a grab-bag of ideas that don't add up: They're claiming they're going to cut corporate taxes and cut taxes for families and preserve the Bush tax cuts and balance the budget and pay for people who can't get insurance under his healthcare plan and maybe have a program of wage insurance and institute a cap-and-trade regime and so on and so forth. (I tried to write about this here, when McCain gave his first big speech on the economy: http://thecurrent.theatlantic.com/archives/2008/04/mccainomics.php) So while there are things in his agenda, like doubling the dependent tax credit, that I think are good ideas for Republicans, and in broad outline I like his healthcare plan ... they don't seem to have any interest in making it all add up, and he clearly has no appetite for getting into the weeds on domestic policy at all.