Political Animal


November 13, 2011 10:40 AM Looking to China as a model

By Steve Benen

I’ve generally overlooked most of Michele Bachmann’s recent nuttiness, in large part because her campaign is falling apart so rapidly and there just doesn’t seem to be much point in highlighting her nonsense.

But this gem from last night was just too beautiful to let go by unmentioned.

“So what would I cut? I think, really, what I would wanna do is be able to go back and take a look at Lyndon Baines Johnson’s The Great Society.

“The Great Society has not worked, and it’s put us into the modern welfare state. If you look at China, they don’t have food stamps. If you look at China, they’re in a very different situ — they save for their own retirement security. They don’t have pay FDIC. They don’t have the modern welfare state. And China’s growing. And so what I would do is look at the programs that LBJ gave us with The Great Society, and they’d be gone.”

Even for Bachmann, this is just amazing.

Sure, it stands to reason right-wing candidate would call for the destruction of “the modern welfare state”; that’s become a rather standard part of any far-right ideology. But once a President Bachmann takes a sledgehammer to the Great Society, what does she want to replace it with? A Chinese model.

Bachmann considers programs like Medicare to be “socialist,” which she thinks is bad, and looks longingly at Chinese communism, which she thinks is good.

Remember over the summer when Bachmann won the Ames Straw Poll and looked like a top-tier candidate? A few months later, it still seems hard to believe.

Steve Benen is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly, joining the publication in August, 2008 as chief blogger for the Washington Monthly blog, Political Animal.


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  • SteveT on November 13, 2011 10:52 AM:

    Remember over the summer when Bachmann won the Ames Straw Poll and looked like a top-tier candidate? A few months later, it still seems hard to believe.

    Not when you take into account the Republican primary voters.

    As was mentioned in the previous post, there is a disturbing, angry ugliness in the Republican Party. There is also a disturbing, belligerent ignorance in the Republican base. Bachmann appeals to both.

  • Jman on November 13, 2011 10:53 AM:

    Oh jeez, let's be more like communist red china. It's like she has a giant wood tick in her head sucking the juices out of her brain. Go Minnesota, golden gophers.

  • walt on November 13, 2011 10:54 AM:

    The China model makes sense, however, if you're a right-winger. Essentially, it's authoritarianism mixed with market fundamentalism. The citizen has few civil rights but does not have the freedom to get rich, a right-wing ideal.

    China is not a 1st-World nation, and if Republicans have their way, neither will the US after several more years. Michele Bachmann is honest in this regard: she's saying out loud what the 1% really want. Produce or starve.

  • c u n d gulag on November 13, 2011 10:55 AM:

    Uhm, Michele, you're supposed to wear a little black cocktail dress.

    Not read Mao's "Little Red Book."

    Oh, Marcus was borrowing the dress?

    Never mind...


  • Jack Lindahl on November 13, 2011 10:55 AM:

    It's not hard to believe when you consider who votes in the Ames straw poll. I should say, when you consider who buys and sells votes, because that's what it is.

  • jcricket on November 13, 2011 11:16 AM:

    In an authoritarian society like China, someone as stupid as Michele Bachmann would not be allowed to hold office.

    I hazard to guess that in a 'produce or starve' society like China, Michele would starve.

  • cld on November 13, 2011 11:31 AM:

    And in China the only business regulation is

    if you do something that makes China look bad and the Western press finds out about it they shoot you.

    Really, it's the Republican utopia.

  • barkleyg on November 13, 2011 11:58 AM:

    SteveT on November 13, 2011 10:52 AM: beat me to it.
    Early bird, or the drinker of the last swig of mezcal gets the "worm", which has a higher IQ than Michelle.

    "Remember over the summer when Bachmann won the Ames Straw Poll and looked like a top-tier candidate? "

    NOT TO ANYONE WITH A BRAIN ! ! sorry for the screaming LOL

  • PeakVT on November 13, 2011 12:29 PM:

    They donít have pay FDIC.

    WTF? I'm 98% certain the few working neurons in her brain misfired there and she meant something else. But if not, she's still stupid in several ways at the same time: the FDIC works well, every advanced country has deposit insurance, no bank customer can possibly assess the risk profile of a modern bank, and China is planning on creating a deposit insurance system.

  • mellowjohn on November 13, 2011 12:32 PM:

    and charlie pierce's take:

    "And, somewhere in a hut in Shandong province, a man comes home from a 16-hour day at the Happy Carcinogens Manufacturing Plant, stirs 27 grains of rice into a pot, garnishes it with what's left of his sandal, and thinks to himself, 'Goddamn glad we don't have Head Start here. Freedom!.'"

  • Monala on November 13, 2011 12:54 PM:

    I wonder if she meant FICA instead of FDIC? You know, that terrible socialist program that pays for Social Security and Medicare.

  • g on November 13, 2011 1:01 PM:

    She has a problem with FDIC? Really?

  • Dan on November 13, 2011 1:05 PM:

    I've mentioned before to my friends and family and on quite a few blogs the similarities between what modern Conservatives want and what the Chinese already have. The things they have in common are really quite striking: No labor/worker rights, no environmental protections, state support for the biggest corporations/monopolies, no minimum wage, a one party state where only one party can "legitimately" rule (in China the communist party, in the USA the GOP). It's no surprise that Bachman would endorse Chinese society as her model, it's only surprising that she a) did it so blatantly and b) it's not a big story in the press. Wait, maybe that last one isn't so surprising...

  • booch221 on November 13, 2011 1:33 PM:

    Remember over the summer when Bachmann won the Ames Straw Poll and looked like a top-tier candidate? A few months later, it still seems hard to believe.

    And to think TPaw dropped out of the race because he lost this ridiculous straw poll. Sure he was out of money, but so was Newt, Santorum, and Caine. The debates are free TV time and it's hard not to believe that Pawlenty wouldn't have had his chance to be the Romney alternative.

    Not that I support TPaw--I can't stand the guy. But Newt???

  • CDW on November 13, 2011 1:35 PM:

    "Remember over the summer when Bachmann won the Ames Straw Poll and looked like a top-tier candidate? "

    But that was before the GOP brain trust entered the fray.

  • MNRD on November 13, 2011 2:03 PM:

    It's like my friend Alison says, Michelle Bachmann just talks too much smack. Even for a Republican Party that loves smash-mouth politics there are certain limits.

  • Tom Marney on November 13, 2011 2:04 PM:

    Not that I keep close track, but AFAIK this is the most intelligent thing Bachmann's ever said.

  • Scott on November 13, 2011 3:04 PM:

    I think this former tax attorney did mean FICA instead of FDIC. I know she worked briefly for the IRS, but, in the name of Pete, would hire this woman to be their attorney, let alone POTUS?

  • sparrow on November 13, 2011 5:31 PM:

    Even with God's backing telling her to run, Bachman's presently polling at at a meager 4% support. She doesn't stand a snowball's chance at the nomination and really never did, but this bat-shit crazy lady has provided for some comedy relief. I suspect God may have wanted a laugh or two also.

  • exlibra on November 13, 2011 6:44 PM:

    If China is anything like Poland of my youth had been -- and I have no reason to think it's not -- then it's true that most people do not pay FICA or, indeed, any taxes at all.

    Only private businesses paid taxes; all those employed by the state (and that meant all the doctors, all the lawyers, all the factory workers, all the teachers, most of shop assistants, etc. The state *owned* pretty much everything) paid none. That's because the state determined their pay and took its cut ahead of time; you never even knew what your brutto was; you only knew the net -- your take home pay.

    Mind you, I'm not sure that I don't prefer that way. It hurts a heck of a lot more to have to give money *back* to the state, than it does not to have it in the first place.

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  • FGS on November 14, 2011 9:16 AM:

    I agree that it's completely nuts, but secretly admiring the Communists is hardly new to Republicans and hardly outside what passes for their mainstream. Solid Republican majorities are firm believers in North Korean torture methods. Solid Republican majorities want to replicate the DMZ along the Mexican border.

    Corporations are internally governed like minature communist dictatorships, complete with massive central planning and sham elections. Company men serve the role of the Party. Only Party candidates are on the ballot. Party bosses' votes are the only votes that matter. Everyone is closely monitored for signs of Party disloyalty.

    So yes, Michelle Bachmann is absolutely nucking futs. But no more than anyone else up there.

  • Peter Schaeffer on November 14, 2011 6:08 PM:

    It may pain liberals to admit it, but Bachmann is right. Lots of countries in Asia have a much smaller welfare state. Taiwan, Singapore, South Korea, Hong Kong, Japan, etc. all come to mind.

    Notably, Singapore's welfare state is vastly smaller than the U.S. How well is that working? Singapore has considerably greater life expectancy and much lower infant mortality. The schools are rather good as well.

    The welfare state corrodes human society. The Romans found this out the hard way, 2000 years ago. We are rediscovering these truths (see "Losing Ground" if you doubt) in our own time.