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To love your country is to hate red ink.
Sounds like a Tea Party slogan, doesn’t it? This concise declaration of fiscal responsibility would look at home on many a conservative bumper or amid a sea of protest signs, but incredibly, it was uttered by Boston University history professor Andrew Bacevich as—I kid you not—a glowing endorsement of President Barack Obama’s April 13 speech on the federal budget. On the Daily Beast, Bacevich declares that the 44th president has “expanded the operative definition of patriotism to encompass belief in balanced budgets”:
This is surely a good thing. So too is the president’s willingness to finger the essence of the problem: a widespread desire for an endless free lunch—people coveting government benefits without a willingness to pay for them.
Obama also performed a useful service in pointing out that any serious effort at deficit reduction will have to target the Big Four: Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, and national security.
Regarding that last category, the president promises to reassess not only military missions and capabilities, but also America’s role in the world. In our post-unipolar moment, such a reassessment is long overdue. Yet to have more than cosmetic results, Obama will have to take on some very sacred cows and some very powerful interests.
I defy you to find a more surreal reaction to Obama’s remarks. We’ve previously discussed how Diamond Barry’s proposed budgets have been so bloated they call for new taxes by the trillions to sustain them. The president might have said on Wednesday that he wants to reduce the deficit by $4 trillion over the next twelve years, but as Mark Knoller of noted right-wing mouthpiece CBS News reports:
Budget totals issued by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) in February project 10 years of deficits totaling $7.2 trillion between 2012 and 2021. Another two years at that rate would bring the 12 year total to $8.6 trillion.
The Obama 12-year plan would cut the projected deficit total in half, but would leave another $4 trillion in deficits that would be added to the National Debt, which now stands at $14.27 trillion.
Separately, OMB expects the Debt to double over the next ten years to a mind-boggling total of $26.3-trillion in 2021. It’s estimated the Debt that year would cost U.S. taxpayers $928-billion in interest payments. Four trillion dollars in deficit reduction would reduce the Debt to just over $22-trillion, and still inflict $700-billion in interest on the federal budget.
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Leftist Rule for Engaging Conservative Ideas #1: conservatives’ motives are never what they claim. It must be rigorously asserted that right-wingers are invariably driven by impulses more sinister than making people better off or trying to find solutions to the problems we face. New Republic senior editor Jonathan Chait knows that lesson by heart—on the Daily Beast, he argues that from the lowliest Tea Partier all the way up to Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), the Right is animated by a view of “the poor as parasites” and “the rich as our rightful rulers,” a dogma we’ve picked up from philosopher Ayn Rand:
Ayn Rand, of course, was a kind of politicized L. Ron Hubbard—a novelist-philosopher who inspired a cult of acolytes who deem her the greatest human being who ever lived. The enduring heart of Rand’s totalistic philosophy was Marxism flipped upside down. Rand viewed the capitalists, not the workers, as the producers of all wealth, and the workers, not the capitalists, as useless parasites.
John Galt, the protagonist of her iconic novel Atlas Shrugged, expressed Rand’s inverted Marxism: “The man at the top of the intellectual pyramid contributes the most to all those below him, but gets nothing except his material payment, receiving no intellectual bonus from others to add to the value of his time. The man at the bottom who, left to himself, would starve in his hopeless ineptitude, contributes nothing to those above him, but receives the bonus of all of their brains.”
In 2009 Rand began popping up all over the Tea Party movement. Sales of her books skyrocketed, and signs quoting her ideas appeared constantly at rallies. Conservatives asserted that the events of the Obama administration eerily paralleled the plot of Atlas Shrugged, in which a liberal government precipitates economic collapse.
To be sure, Rand’s ultra-capitalist works have enjoyed a surge in popularity recently, a predicable response to our leaders overreaching in the opposite direction. But it’s not quite true to suggest Rand is universally embraced on the Right; for instance, consider National Review’s March 2009 symposium on Rand, which on the whole takes a dim view of the author (in fairness, she’s much more popular at Big Hollywood).
I haven’t read her, and have no strong opinions about her philosophy either way, but I can certainly tell when mainstream conservative thought is subjected to class-warfare caricatures:
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Unfounded accusations of racism over political disputes usually anger me like few other things can, but lately I find myself reacting to them more with yawns than scowls. It’s the law of diminishing returns in action—overdo something, and it ceases to be effective.
Alas, Andrea Mitchell still hasn’t gotten the memo. NewsBusters’ Alex Fitzsimmons reports that the MSNBC host and her Democrat guest see the specter of bigotry behind Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) 2012 budget proposal:
“Representative Paul Ryan’s 2012 budget, released today, includes reforms, what they call reforms, and also big cuts in housing assistance, job training, and food stamps,” warned Mitchell. “All of which would have a very big impact on particularly poor and minority communities, some say.” Mitchell was mum as Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.) bandied ludicrous assertions about the 2012 Republican budget, which would slash spending by nearly $6 trillion over 10 years mostly by reforming unsustainable health care entitlement programs.
“It’s clearly a nervous breakdown on paper and it will do enormous damage, I think, to the vulnerable populations of this country,” predicted the chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, who added that the House Budget Chairman’s proposed cuts to non-defense discretionary spending would “devastate the poor,” particularly in America’s racial minority groups.
Citing a concise Jennifer Rubin piece, Fitzsimmons points out that the Ryan plan’s welfare reductions are modest by historical standards, and that it in fact merely “pare[s] back such programs to 2008 levels.” If anything, it sounds like the Ryan plan can be best described as a welcome opening act, but not enough to escape the hole we’ve dug for ourselves. CATO’s Michael Tanner writes that it “cuts spending by $6.2 trillion over the next ten years” yet “still adds $6 trillion to the national debt.”
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The fireworks in Wisconsin over Gov. Scott Walker’s efforts to rein in government employee unions aren’t over yet. Unions have declared war on any Wisconsin businesses that won’t publicly oppose Walker, and the budget repair bill has been blocked by an activist judge, turning next week’s state Supreme Court election into a proxy battle on the issue.
Oh, and we’re not done with the onslaught of violence and vitriol on behalf of the unions and the educational establishment, either. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports that Wisconsin resident Katherine Windels is now facing felony charges for death threats she made against state Republican lawmakers:
The subject line of the second email was: ”Atten: Death Threat!!!! Bomb!!!” In that email, she purportedly wrote, “Please put your things in order because you will be killed and your families will also be killed due to your actions in the last 8 weeks.”
“I hope you have a good time in hell,” she allegedly wrote in the lengthy email in which she purportedly listed scenarios in which the legislators and their families would die, including bombings and by “putting a nice little bullet in your head.”
According to the criminal complaint, Windels told investigators “I sent out emails that I was
disgusted and very upset by what they were doing.”
Asked if she intended to follow through on any of her threats, Windels told the investigators “No,” according to the complaint.
At Hot Air, Ed Morrissey reveals two key details about the story that the Sentinel left out: first, Windels is a pre-school and kindergarten teacher, and second, this isn’t the first time she’s done something like this—she sent the emails using the name and email address of Lisa Patterson, a woman who she allegedly sent threatening text messages to in October 2010.
Tim Pawlenty is set to make his presidential bid official today. Yawn.
On federal spending and government shutdowns, Russ Vought makes the case for drawing a line in the sand.
Mark Levin has an excellent comparison of Presidents Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush’s conservative credentials.
And it turns out that Mitch Daniels is even worse than you (and I) thought.
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You want a surefire way to cause a cable news stir? Just pit old foes like Sean Hannity and Rep. Anthony Weiner against each other, throw in Rep. Michele Bachmann for good measure, and voila! The battle gets picked up by everyone from Mediaite and The Blaze to News Hounds and the Huffington Post.
Last night’s topic of debate was the United States’ current financial mess:
HANNITY: All right, Congressman, here’s why we are in this position. This is just a fact. You had both Houses of Congress last year — run by the Democrats. You had White House. You guys didn’t pass a budget. It is your responsibility. You should have passed the budget. You didn’t pass a budget. Now we find ourselves at this impasse.
All the Democrats are offering — it’s $4.5 billion in cuts. We have a $1.65 trillion deficit this year, after nearly three trillion of Obama debt in his first two years. And we also have, you know, $3.7 trillion budget.
You can’t find more than $4.5 billion to cut?
WEINER: Well, frankly, let’s get the history right. The Bush administration drove the economy into a cliff and we’ve been digging out ever since.
HANNITY: Blah, blah, blah.
WEINER: Well, let me answer the question. It’s true we also did add a trillion dollars of additional debt and deficit by giving tax cuts to millionaires and billionaires — something many of us opposed. But the fact is, if you look at the president’s budget –
Once again, Bush Derangement Syndrome rears its ugly head. We’re in Barack Obama’s third year as president; it’s remarkable that Democrats still don’t feel embarrassed to lay the blame for all of America’s woes, including the Obama job losses, at the feet of his predecessor. If you still think Obama has little to do with all the red ink we’re drowning in, check out this post at Maggie’s Notebook, which highlights a couple unnerving analyses of Obama’s fiscal policies. They point out that Obama’s gotten credit for the repayment of TARP loans that should go to Bush, and that “the latest Obama budget is his third straight budget calling for over a $1 trillion in spending – which no other president has ever done, and in fact no president has even asked for half that. And get this: Anderson says Obama’s three year spending binge is 37% higher than G.W.’s ENTIRE 8-YEAR PRESIDENCY.” (I’ve tackled Obama’s drunken-sailor ways before here.)
Walker, to be sure, has every intention of pursuing all elements of his muscular budget proposal in coming weeks. Yet the key for him, he says, is making Democrats realize that he is not looking to make enemies with them, regardless of how angry they are about the budget-repair bill. “[The budget-repair bill] was not about getting a political victory,” he says. “It was about getting our economy on track. It’s time to move forward.”
This is exactly the wrong way to react to what’s transpired – the lies, the venom, the shameless attempt to grind the democratic process to a halt – over the past month. Above all, any Republican leader who wants to get meaningful results has to recognize one critical truth: regardless of whether or not you’re “looking to make enemies with them,” the Democrats are always looking to make enemies with you. No matter what you do, the Democratic Party is your enemy, because that’s what they’ve chosen to be. They’re operating on a fundamentally incompatible set of first principles and partisan interests. No amount of olive branches or appeasement will soften their ideology or their treachery, but will just result in needless concessions from us and leave our opponents convinced that their tactics work. Failure to recognize this fact always kills Republicans.