Democrats Need New Ideas, Not New Think Tanks By Kevin Hassett for www.bloomberg.com Aug. 22, 2005 When you weigh the things that have led to Republican political domination in recent years, you can't help but be struck by the dearth of innovative ideas coming from the Democrats. Even Los Angeles Times columnist Michael Kinsley, no fan of the Republicans, has noticed. ``It's true that the Republicans are the party of ideas and the Democrats are the party of reaction,'' he wrote earlier this month. ``Republicans set the agenda, and Democrats try to talk the country out of it.'' With Democrats faltering in the marketplace of ideas and reeling from electoral losses, a group of financiers has initiated a visible and collective movement to recover -- a vast left-wing conspiracy, you might call it. The Washington Post reported on Aug. 7 that at least 80 liberals have pledged to contribute $1 million apiece to fund a new network of think tanks through an organization known as the Democracy Alliance. Their intent is to revive the intellectual left; Their endeavor is doomed from the outset. Taxes and Growth It's folly to construct a network of research organizations with a clear aim of supporting specific political ends, in this case those of the Democratic Party. Good research provides no political advantage because it convinces everyone. You shouldn't care who accepts your research. While Republicans in the U.S. may have adopted more ideas emanating from a small set of think tanks, Democrats could have done so as well. What are these new think tanks going to do, keep their research secret from Republicans? Indeed, it's quite common for ideas from "right-wing'' think tanks to affect left-wing governments. For example, numerous studies have demonstrated that high corporate tax rates harm economic growth. Countries around the world have responded to this information by cutting tax rates. They did so because the connection between tax rates and growth was convincing, not because of the political affiliations of the researchers. All this raises the question: Why have Democrats been less reliant on the policy prescriptions emanating from think tanks that have documented the benefits of free enterprise? World View The answer provides another big reason that the Democracy Alliance will fail: Democrats continue to rely on a world view that crumbles under scrutiny. for full article: http://quote.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=10000039&refer=columnist_hassett&sid=ay... When Bloomberg.com page pops up, click on Bloomberg Columnists in left-hand column, and then Kevin Hassett (listed bottom of page in orange borders).