Category Archive 'Debt Ceiling'

01 Aug 2011

Krauthammer: The Tea Party Has Won

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Charles Krauthammer, reflecting on the debt ceiling compromise, tells Fox News that the Tea Party Movement has done what it set out to do. It has changed the topic of America’s political debate.

Not so very long ago, at the time of his State of the Union address in January, Barack Obama was talking about more stimulus, “investment” in non-existent and uneconomic technologies, and the United States was firmly on the path to becoming another European-style welfare state. Looking back, Obama seems to be living in a different era. We are now in the period in which Americans recognize that government expansion and spending has gone too far, entitlements need to be rolled back, and the purposes and abilities of government re-evaluated. Obama has become a relic of the past, a fossil, and the Tea Party has been responsible.

Krauthammer, I think perfectly correctly views the still-pending-enactment debt bargain as a limited victory, but also as a turning point.

See the non-embeddable 2:01 video at Right Scoop.

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The same Charles Krauthammer had warned last Thursday:

I have every sympathy with the conservative counterrevolutionaries. Their containment of the Obama experiment has been remarkable. But reversal — rollback, in Cold War parlance — is simply not achievable until conservatives receive a mandate to govern from the White House.

Lincoln is reputed to have said: I hope to have God on my side, but I must have Kentucky. I don’t know whether conservatives have God on their side (I keep getting sent to His voice mail), but I do know that they don’t have Kentucky — they don’t have the Senate, they don’t have the White House. And under our constitutional system, you cannot govern from one house alone. Today’s resurgent conservatism, with its fidelity to constitutionalism, should be particularly attuned to this constraint, imposed as it is by a system of deliberately separated — and mutually limiting — powers.

Given this reality, trying to force the issue — turn a blocking minority into a governing authority — is not just counter-constitutional in spirit but self-destructive in practice. …

November 2012 constitutes the new conservatism’s one chance to restructure government and change the ideological course of the country. Why risk forfeiting that outcome by offering to share ownership of Obama’s wreckage?

22 Jul 2011

The Federal Deficit and the Purposes of Government

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Daniel Greenfield has an excellent, must-read editorial on the real meaning of the raising-the-debt-ceiling debate and “social justice” as a form of addiction.

The debt ceiling debate is less about spending than it is about the purpose of government. Under the impact of an economic recession, the train of the Great Society is approaching the edge of the New Frontier. Both sides are still trying to work out a New Deal, but another cuts and spending formula is not the solution. What we need is a serious and earnest discussion about why we are compulsively spending money.

A cocaine addict who runs out of money doesn’t have a spending problem, he has a drug problem. Telling him to cut back on how much money he spends on cocaine, or to shop around for cheaper cocaine isn’t the solution. It’s not about how much he’s spending, but about why. The problem isn’t in the math, it’s in the mindset.

Our cocaine is social justice. Like most junkies who are willing to sell anything and everything to keep the supply coming, Obama’s position in the budget debate is take everything– especially the military, but leave the social justice and the big government that administers it on the table. And also like most junkies, he has an endless supply of self-righteous speeches denouncing the people who just want him to stop.

In the rush of words, he postures, conflates compromise with confrontation, threatens and urges everyone to work together. There is no consistent message, only egotistical aggression and defensive need. Strip away the verbiage and you come away with a chorus of, “Mine, My Way, Mine”.

With all addictions, it is important to look for the root cause. The psychological weakness that allows the chemical rush to take over and become the defining principle of life. In this case it is a basic split over the purpose of government.

Be sure to read the whole thing.

Hat tip to the Barrister.

14 Jul 2011

Obama Blows His Cool

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Politico quotes Rep. Eric Cantor (R- VA) on the presidential temper tantrum that concluded the latest round of budget negotiations between the White House and Republicans.

Cantor said the two sides were too far apart to get a deal that could pass the House by the Treasury Department’s Aug. 2 deadline — and that he would consider moving a short-term debt-limit increase alongside smaller spending cuts — Obama began to lecture him.

“Eric, don’t call my bluff,” the president said, warning Cantor that he would take his case “to the American people.” He told Cantor that no other president — not Ronald Reagan, the president said — would sit through such negotiations.

Democratic sources dispute Cantor’s version of Obama’s walk out, but all sides agree that the two had a blow up. The sources described Obama as “impassioned” but said he didn’t exactly storm out of the room.

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Reuters adds a hilarious quotation from Mr. Obama.

U.S. President Barack Obama told Republicans at the conclusion of a stormy budget meeting on Wednesday that he would not yield further even if it puts his presidency at risk, a Republican aide said.

“I have reached the point where I say enough,” Obama said, according to the aide. “Would Ronald Reagan be sitting here? I’ve reached my limit. This may bring my presidency down, but I will not yield on this.”

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Bringing to mind a skit broadcast a few months back by Jay Leno:

14 Jul 2011

The Left’s Progress

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William Hogarth, The Rake’s Progress: 6. The Rake at the Gaming House, 1734, Sir John Soane’s Museum, London

Republicans, these days, are finding themselves feeling exactly like the parental character in some old-fashioned moralizing English novel. Americans worked hard and lived responsibly and produced as cherished offspring and heir, the liberal elite. Our child, the liberal elite which we shall refer to henceforward as “Algernon,” it turns out, has grown up not into the sturdy young hero we desired, but rather into a vain, irreligious, and totally irresponsible habitué of the most extreme fashionable demimonde, a rake, and a spendthrift.

Inevitably, we learn that Algernon has exceeded his very generous allowance and run up massive debts. There is no possibility that Algernon can ever meet his obligations. Disgrace, dishonor, and debtors’ prison loom as gloomy prospects.

Young Algy has consequently returned to the family home he previously despised to beg his disappointed and estranged parent to intervene to save him. The scene is easily pictured. There is the sad, but still loving, grey-haired pater familias. There is the slightly crest-fallen, but still arrogant, young Corinthian. The father is theoretically willing to retrench and mortgage the estate and sacrifice for long years to come to save his son’s honor and keep him from prison, but he naturally considers himself obliged to make such assistance conditional upon genuine repentance and a complete break with the young man’s bad associations and pernicious habits.

It turns out, of course, that his life of iniquity in the fleshpots of the metropolis has coarsened young Algernon and fed his arrogance. Algy feels completely entitled to the life he has led, and has plans underway for even more ambitious forms of debauchery. Algy regards his father’s estate as already his own, and simply demands that his father assume responsibility for all his current debts and increase his allowance.

Sadly, the unhappy father explains that meeting even the current obligations Algernon has assumed is impossible with the income of the entire estate. To pay Algernon’s debts, land must be sold, the manor-house rented to strangers, tenants evicted and the commons converted to new enterprises to increase income. The entire family will have to curtail its expenses and live on a much more restricted scale for years.

But the wicked and ungrateful Algernon refuses to hear any of this. He bangs his fist on the table, abuses his father, and demands everything he asked for.

Sadly, the father explains that his son’s attitude, his hardened habits of iniquity, and his lack of responsibility make rescuing him impossible. As an alternative to prison, the father can only offer him a boat ticket to Australia and a small remittance for so long as he remains out of England.

13 Jul 2011

The McConnell Maneuver

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The Wall Street Journal thinks Mitch McConnell’s “Eat Your Own Darn Peas” manuever is an appropriate way to end the stalemate in the absence of good faith negotiating intentions from the other side.

The debt ceiling is going to be increased one way or another, and the only question has been what if anything Republicans could get in return. If Mr. Obama insists on a tax increase, and Republicans won’t vote for one, then what’s the alternative to Mr. McConnell’s maneuver?

Republicans who say they can use the debt limit to force Democrats to agree to a balanced budget amendment are dreaming. Such an amendment won’t get the two-thirds vote to pass the Senate, but it would give every Democrat running for re-election next year a chance to vote for it and claim to be a fiscal conservative. …

The entitlement state can’t be reformed by one house of Congress in one year against a determined President and Senate held by the other party. It requires more than one election. The Obama Democrats have staged a spending blowout to 24% of GDP and rising, and now they want to find a way to finance it to make it permanent. Those are the real stakes of 2012.

Even if Mr. Obama gets his debt-limit increase without any spending cuts, he will pay a price for the privilege. He’ll have reinforced his well-earned reputation as a spender with no modern peer. He’ll own the record deficits and fast-rising debt. And he’ll own the U.S. credit-rating downgrade to AA if Standard & Poor’s so decides.

We’d far prefer a bipartisan deal to cut spending and reform entitlements without a tax increase. But if Mr. Obama won’t go along, there’s no reason Republicans should help him dodge the political consequences by committing debt-limit harakiri.

12 Jul 2011

The Democrats’ Losing Hand

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Christopher Chantrill explains why the democrats are completely screwed.

[T]he two political parties are diametrically opposed on recession-fighting policy. The Republican recipe to “boost growth” is to lower tax rates and regulation, and the Democratic recipe is to “invest” in stimulus spending. For Republicans, “structural economic policy changes” means reform Social Security and Medicare; for Democrats it means raise taxes.

There is no “agreement.” There is only a game of chicken to see who blinks first before August 2.

But we are conservatives. We do not just want to “win;” we want to do the right thing. How do we get out of the recession?

The best way to understand a recession is this: It is a period of adjustment during which the malinvestments of the previous boom are liquidated. Usually, in our era, booms are ignited by cheap money injected into the credit system by government. Cheap money seduces people into borrowing too much.

In the 2000s boom the malinvestments were the homes that millions of people bought with cheap credit, courtesy of Fannie, Freddie and CRA. Homebuilders expanded and sucked a ton of workers and capital goods into homebuilding. Everything looked good until interests rates rose and home prices started to decline.

You know what happened next. “Malinvestment” became nightmare investment, as the greedy bankers foreclosed on millions of homes, and home prices cratered.

But at some point the foreclosures will ease up, bottom-feeders will buy up the flood of houses, and home construction will resume.

The logic of Democratic “stimulus” is that if government shovels out enough money it will tide the economy over the crater. Home prices will recover, businesses will revive, and growth will resume. But what if home prices don’t recover before the stimulus runs out?

Back in 2009, the Obama administration made a judgment, implicit or explicit, that the housing crisis would be over in a couple of years, and that cheap money (QE1 and QE2) and a trillion dollar stimulus program would tide the economy over till then. But they were wrong. The housing market still hasn’t bottomed out, and the economy hasn’t snapped back, as this chart demonstrates.

The Obama mistake was bad enough but the Obamis made a second error. Assuming that the economy would revive in accordance with Baldrick’s cunning plan, they went ahead with their plans for expanding government spending and regulation, spraying money at their deserving supporters. They thought that the economy would soon be strong enough to increase the weight of government. With ObamaCare they increased the weight of government in health care. With regulation, spending, and subsidies pushing green energy they increased the weight of government in energy production.

That’s where the slick assumptions in Cohn’s “increase short-term deficits in ways that boost growth” kicks in. Suppose your “short-term deficit” doesn’t boost growth? Suppose it is just another wasteful government program that increases the weight of government, and postpones the day when happy days are here again?

That’s where the Obamis are sitting right now. They have shot their bolt with cheap money and stimulus spending and cranked up the National Debt by 40 percent. But here we are in Summer 2011 and there is still no light at the end of the tunnel.

To fix things the Obamis would have to adopt the Republican agenda and reduce the weight of government. They would have to repeal ObamaCare, reverse their green energy boondoggle, lower tax rates, and cut wasteful government spending.

You can see the problem. For the last 40 years, ever since the “unexpected” success of Reaganomics, liberals have been telling themselves and everyone else that supply-side economics is a mirage. Now they have to admit that everything they believe is wrong.

For the second time in some of our lifetimes, the American voting public has been treated to a full-scale, practical test of left-wing, Keynesian economics in operation. We saw all this before in the latter half of the 1970s.

Barack Obama’s great leap forward to the shiny new American European-style welfare state has turned a political version of Bernard Law Montgomery’s WWII Operation Market Garden, Obamacare being the “Bridge Too Far.” But the economics of the world of reality is actually a less forgiving, and much more formidable adversary, than the Germany Army in the Fall of 1944. The Allies went on to win WWII. Obama will be going to join Jimmy Carter in the ashbin of history and will soon be Carter’s rival for the title of worst president anyone can remember.

09 Jul 2011

Pat Buchanan Counsels No Surrender

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Pat Buchanan left mainstream Conservatism for the Paleocon fever swamps some years ago, and has rarely ever made much sense since, but today the old Pat Buchanan is back and in fine form. In fact, Buchanan identifies precisely the tactics of bluffing and intimidation that the mouthpieces of the establishment are using to try to frighten the Republican leadership (which holds all the cards) into surrendering on tax increases to the impotent, discredited-by-reality, and sinking-daily-in-the-polls democrats. Pat Buchanan is right: the level of shrillness of the MSM commentariat is directly proportionate to their desperation. They know they’re losing.

By refusing to accept tax increases in a deal to raise the debt ceiling, Republicans are behaving like “fanatics,” writes David Brooks of The New York Times.

Anti-tax Republicans “have no sense of moral decency,” he adds.

They are “willing to stain their nation’s honor” to “worship their idol.” If this “deal of the century” goes down, as he calls the Barack Obama offer, “Republican fanaticism” will be the cause.

“The GOP has become a cult” that has replaced reason with “feverish” and “cockamamie beliefs,” writes Richard Cohen of The Washington Post. The Republican “presidential field (is) a virtual political Jonestown,” the Guyana site where more than 900 followers of the Peoples Temple drank the Kool-Aid that Rev. Jim Jones mixed for them.

Does anyone think this an appropriate description of such mild-mannered men as Mitt Romney, Tim Pawlenty and Jon Huntsman?

“The GOP’s Hezbollah Wing Is Now Fully in Control,” screams The New Republic over a recent lead editorial.

Other columnists charge the GOP with holding America “hostage” by refusing to accept tax hikes to avert a default on the debt.

What to make of this hysteria?

The Establishment is in a panic. It has been jolted awake to the realization that the GOP House, if it can summon the courage to use it, is holding a weapon that could enable it to bridle forever the federal monster that consumes 25 percent of gross domestic product.

To bully and blackmail the GOP into surrendering the weapon and betraying its principles and signing on to new taxes, that establishment has unleashed rhetoric more befitting a war on terror than a political dispute.

For how, exactly, are Republicans threatening the republic?

The House has not said it will not raise the debt ceiling. It must and will. It has not said it will not accept budget cuts. It has indicated a willingness to accept the budget cuts agreed to in the Biden negotiations.

Where the GOP has stood its ground is on tax increases. …

The Republican Party has not said it will refuse to raise the debt ceiling. It has an obligation to do so, and will.

The House has simply said it will not accept new taxes on a nation whose fiscal crisis comes from overspending.

If the GOP keeps its word, raises the debt ceiling and accepts budget cuts agreed to in the Biden negotiations, the only people who can prevent the debt ceiling’s being raised are Senate Democrats or Obama, in which case, they, not the GOP, will have thrown the nation into default.

It is the establishment that is resorting to extortion, saying, in effect, to the House GOP: Give us the new taxes we demand, or Obama will veto the debt ceiling and we will all blame you for the default.

They’re bluffing.

The GOP should stand its ground — and fix bayonets.


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