Who Is Dave Brat? Ctd

Molly Redden and David Corn unpack Brat’s ideology:

A quick review of his public statements reveals a fellow who is about as tea party as can be. He appears to endorse slashing Social Security payouts to seniors by two-thirds. He wants to dissolve the IRS. And he has called for drastic cuts to education funding, explaining, “My hero Socrates trained in Plato on a rock. How much did that cost? So the greatest minds in history became the greatest minds in history without spending a lot of money.” An economics professor at Randolph-Macon College in central Virginia, Brat frequently has repeated the conservative canard that Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae brought down the housing market by handling the vast majority of subprime mortgages. That is, he absolves Big Finance and the banks of responsibility for the financial crisis that triggered the recession, which hammered middle-class and low-income families across the country. (In fact, as the housing bubble grew, Freddie and Fannie shed their subprime holdings, while banks grabbed more.)

Chris Mooney discovers that Brat is a climate change skeptic:

In a recent campaign event video (which has since been made private), Brat explains his free-marketeer perspective on environmental and energy problems. Naturally, he believes that American ingenuity will lead the way to a cleaner environment. But he also hints at a disbelief in the science of global warming, and alludes to a well-worn myth that has been widely used on the right to undermine trust in climate scientists – the idea that just a few decades ago, in the 1970s, climate experts all thought we were headed into “another Ice Age.”

John Cassidy deems Brat’s lack of a political record a campaign advantage:

Does he favor increasing the minimum wage, which would offer some direct help to low-paid American workers, or raising the debt ceiling to avoid a market meltdown? Asked about the minimum wage by NBC’s Chuck Todd on Wednesday morning, he waffled and changed the subject.

Republican leaders like Cantor have to give specific answers to these types of questions, and, occasionally, they are obliged to negotiate with the other party. Many Republican voters regard such maneuvers as betrayals: they are in no mood for compromise. To convince these voters that they are genuine conservatives, elected officials have to take extreme positions, such as advocating the repeal of Obamacare, opposing Roe v. Wade, and rejecting any pathway to citizenship for illegal aliens. That’s been the G.O.P.’s dilemma ever since 2008. Brat’s victory shows that it hasn’t gone away.

Wolfers defends Brat’s minimum-wage comments:

When an MSNBC interviewer asked David Brat, the economicsprofessor at Randolph-Macon College who toppled Eric Cantor in a primary challenge Tuesday, whether he opposed the minimum wage, he responded on Wednesday, “Um, I don’t have a well-crafted response on that one.”

The political class is billing it as a gaffe. But Mr. Brat’s fellow economists would probably be far more generous. Assessing the evidence on the effects of the minimum wage is a tricky business, and the evidence isn’t strong enough to support the certainties that pundits seem to demand.

Weigel draws a political analogy:

The quick rise of David Brat reminds me quite a lot of the slower rise of Ron Paul. In parts of 2007, I remember being one of two or three reporters in the room for some Ron Paul press conferences where he would bang on about the evils of the Federal Reserve. Who cared about such things?

Well, voters did. Voters, as Kristol understands and the WSJ stubbornly fails to, lurch toward populism in a time of economic want. Cantor couldn’t have been more vulnerable to a challenge. Brat, having beaten him, gets to define what Republican populism looks like in 2014.