The Amazing Prescience of the Capitol Steps

I’ve been a fan of the Capitol Steps for decades now, but only recently have I fully appreciated the prescience of their musical insights. I hope Econbrowser readers will too, by singing along to this twenty year old song, “Favored Right Wing” [sample], sung to the tune of “My favorite things”. (This song is so old, that no complete online version exists, and I had to laboriously transcribe the words by hand(!), so apologies if there are a couple errors.)

[Introductory remarks: Ladies and Gentlemen, the League of Men Voters in conjunction with the Senate Committee of White Guys in Gray Suits is pleased to present a campaign address by Mr. Pat Buchanan.]

Dumping on low-lifers, pimpos and floozies,
Stumping for pro-lifers right to own uzis,
Helping George Bush get his tush in a sling,
These are some things favored by the right wing.

Trade blocking schemes aimed at Germans and Asians,
Basketball teams should employ more Caucasians,
Send Chinese immigrants back to Nanking,
We on the right always do the white thing!


Close our Nation to the Haitians,
Let the Wall begin!
If I could rewrite what history has wrought
Columbus would not get in!

Welfare gets frozen, the poor will get thinner,
Each spotted owl is at my state dinner.
We think Jane Fonda is a big ding-a-ling.
If you’re playing goalie beware the right wing!

No one departs from that Jesse Helms credo,
Ban public art that excites the libido.
When Pat’s on the road, a Mercedes he brings –
Mercedes are cars favored by the right wing.


Vote Buchanan! That’s our man in.
Not some bureaucrat!
We must send a message, we must send a rant
America can’t stand pat!

(I said that?)

Aside from the anachronistic references to Jane Fonda and George (HW) Bush, I think the song has stood the test of time well.

By the way, the song is right after the fantastic “The Sounds of Tsongas” (sung to the tune of “The Sounds of Silence”), on the album “Fools on the Hill”.


12 thoughts on “The Amazing Prescience of the Capitol Steps

  1. Ricardo

    This is some of the best economic analysis Menzie has posted. Not one lick of Sudoku! I am a little surprised Menzie likes this. Where is supporting econometric study….?

  2. Rich Berger

    I went to a conference in DC where the CS were the “entertainment”. De gustibus non est disputandum.

  3. tj

    I stand by my analogy, it was your interpetation that was weird.
    It’s like rewarding illegal aliens with amnesty but never trying to slow the inflow of illegals. You simply perpetuate the problem and align incentives with behavior that makes the problem worse in the long run.
    My point with the analogy was very simple – Before we commit to raising taxes to cover current levels of government spending on entitlements, we should solve the underlying problem of uncontrolled entitlement spending. Otherwise, we will have to raise taxes again and again.
    Similarly, before we grant amnesty to all current illegal immigrants, we should solve the underlying problem of an uncontrolled flow of illegal immigrants into the country. Otherwise, we will have to grant amnesty again and again, because amnesty provides and incentive to enter the U.S. illegally. There are plenty of people unable to enter the U.S. legally that you are branding as less worthy of U.S. citizenship, compared to those who break the law to enter the U.S.
    It’s sobering that you chose to associate that analogy with Hitler.

  4. Menzie Chinn

    tj: I had no doubt that you would stand by that analogy. By the way, you had no rejoinder to my rebuttal that there was no empirical evidence for the “starve the beast” hypothesis.

    On the matter of this post, do you disagree that many of the points highlighted in the lyrics constitute planks of the conservative platform?

  5. tj

    Once again you twist the debate to fit your narrative.
    Please show me where I said or implied “the Starve the Beast (higher revenues lead to higher spending..) hypothesis.
    My claim is that spending has been racheted up to an unsustainable level, and the solution should not be to raise taxes to justify that level of spending. In fact, that is exactly the opposite of the “Starve the Beast” hypothesis that attribute to me. Your bias is influencing your ability to comprehend blog posts.
    Regarding your lyrics – they remind me of the stereotypes that have plagued Jeremy Lin. You think all conservatives fit your warped world view.

  6. Chris

    I don’t think we need any further proof of tj’s utter ignorance and hopeless irrelevance to any meaningful discussion of things that can be counted. I’m sure Basic high school Algebra was the 5 most confusing, frustrating years of his life.
    As for your post my ex-girlfriend used to play these in the car all of the time. I think I have heard this one a couple times. I honestly never expected to see it pop up here, so kudos for teaching an(other) expectations lesson.
    If some people have a problem with some light-hearted politics alongside top-tier economic analysis, they can go whine about it on their crummy blog that not even their friends waste time reading.

  7. Menzie Chinn

    tj: Let …me …try …again. If you assert that spending has risen so much that the only way to reduce spending is to cut taxes so as constrain spending — well that is exactly the starve the beast hypothesis, not the opposite as you assert.

    I did not assert the characterizations in the lyrics applied to you, or all on the right wing. What I do believe is that those views are now closer to characterizing the right wing than they were twenty years ago (when Pat Buchanan’s views were considered fringe). Do you disagree with that point?

  8. tj

    Let…me…try…again. I assert that higher spending leads to higher revenues, the opposite of starve the beast. Note that I am not claiming there is an economic mechanism that leads to this result. It is a political mechanism driven by ‘spend first and tax later’ politicians,so there is a lag.
    Chris – you don’t like my sense of humor? I asked in jest if Menzie was drunk when he posted this topic, guess I should have included a ” ;) ” for the humor impaired. Also, no problem with math.

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