- When in power, spend like a drunken sailor. Also cut taxes. Give people stuff you can't afford to pay for, and slip them money while you're at it.
- When out of power, howl about deficits. Make the Democrats cut spending and raise taxes. Deficits are the worst thing ever!!!
- Get re-elected. Rinse and repeat.
It all started with Jude Wanniski, who proposed his evil Two Santa Clauses strategy in 1974:
Democrats, he said, had been able to be "Santa Clauses" by giving people things from the largesse of the federal government. From food stamps to new schools to sending a man to the moon, the people loved the “toys” the Democrats brought every year.
Republicans could do that, too, the theory went – spending could actually increase without negative repurcussions. Plus, Republicans could be double Santa Clauses by cutting people's taxes!
For working people it would only be a small token – a few hundred dollars a year on average – but would be heavily marketed. And for the rich, which wasn’t to be discussed in public, it would amount to hundreds of billions of dollars in tax cuts.
The rich, Reagan, Bush, and Trump told us, would then use that money to import or build more stuff to market, thus stimulating the economy and making average working people richer. (And, of course, they’d pass some of that money back to the GOP, like the Kochs giving Paul Ryan $500,000.00 right after he passed the last tax cut that gave them billions.)
There was no way, Wanniski said, that the Democrats could ever win again. They'd be forced into the role of Santa-killers by raising taxes, or anti-Santas by cutting spending. Either one would lose them elections.
Why am we just learning about this?