The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Friday, November 30, 2012

The Pledge

Most Progressives rail against Grover Norquist, the founder and president of Americans for Tax Reform, and the man behind the GOP's "No New Taxes" GOP pledge. Norquist is represented as the man behind the curtain—evil to the max. The characterization is nonsense, but the Pledge itself is also rather silly. Absolutes are impossible in politics.

But since we're on the topic of pledges, Debra Saunders suggests that the Democrats have one too. She characterizes the Dem's unwritten and unsigned, but no less restrictive pledge as follows:
If spending exceeds revenue, I pledge to oppose spending cuts and support only tax increases. Or throwing more dollars onto the $16 trillion mountain of national debt.

I pledge to argue for a "balanced" approach while I steadfastly weasel away from any meaningful attempt to curb spending on social programs.
The Dems are simply not serious about cutting the true cost centers in our federal budget.

They talk with feigned emotion about "balancing the budget on the backs of the poor" (recently amended to the middle class as well) and always fail to mention that: (1) many of the most over-extended programs (e.g., Social Security and Medicare) apply to rich and poor alike, (2) programs for the poor have grown precipitously over the past four years, and (3) the definition of "poor" has changed dramatically, and now families on "assistance" can pull in as much as $67,000 per year (the value of all benefits included) from the government.

They talk about a "balanced" approach but never (and I do mean never) become specific about what goes into the balance.

They talk about phantom cuts (e.g., no more war in Iraq) and then have the gall to project them out of ten years. They never talk about real cuts for the coming year. In fact, "cuts" aren't cuts at all—they're just decreases in the increase in spending.

They embrace the delusional belief (see Paul Krugman or Robert Reich) that debt doesn't matter and that balanced budgets are elitist, racist, and generally a bad idea.

So yeah, absolute adherence to a no taxes pledge can be foolish. But absolute adherence to the Dem's version of a "balanced approach" is grossly irresponsible and magnificently dishonest. No new taxes won't bankrupt the country, but continuing trillion dollar a year deficits will. And that's the end result of the Democrats silent no spending cuts pledge.

Addendum I:

Investors Business Daily
discusses the President's cynical approach to taxation and spending cuts (i.e., there will be no substantive spending cuts) when it states:
Even the liberal press is exposing Obama's disingenuousness. The New York Times noted on Wednesday that Obama "has barely discussed how he would pare back federal spending, focusing instead on the aspect of his plan that plays to his liberal base."

The Los Angeles Times on Thursday observed Obama "hasn't said anything publicly about his targets for entitlement savings or cuts in discretionary spending. Instead, he's tacitly stuck with the proposals in his fiscal 2013 budget, which Congress has already rejected."

Obama touts what he calls a "balanced approach" in which Republicans raise tax rates, and he promised during the campaign this year to "cut 2-1/2 dollars" in spending "for every dollar in increased revenue."

But now, with signs that Republicans will agree to increase taxes, the L.A. Times reports that "Democrats seem to have become more entrenched in their resistance to the other half of Obama's formula."

The Dems are a lot like the dog that catches the truck. They'll get what they want, but instead of doing what is right (cutting spending), they are relying on their silent "no cuts" pledge. It's irresponsible, but it does buy votes from the dependency class, and that what matters in the end.

Addendum II

Jennifer Rubin adds this comment in The Washington Post:
A lot of smart conservatives have argued that Republicans should walk away from the fiscal negotiations or dare President Obama to go over the fiscal cliff if he going to insist on making ridiculous proposals that set back the negotiations. Listen, it is his recession, too, and at least we would get away from the fiction that only raising taxes on the rich will pay for Obama's super-sized welfare state.

My reaction is: We may get there. but not yet. It is really too soon to tell if Obama is wasting time (albeit in a dangerously unhelpful manner). It is still preferable to try for a package that includes real spending cuts as well as entitlement and tax reform. If that becomes impossible, only then would the cliff look more attractive.

For now, however, Senate and House Republicans are playing it right. They have even got the mainstream media to notice how unreasonable Obama's non-offer, offer is. ("no concessions"). Some even recognized that the president's "offer" in response to the Republicans' move on revenue was identical to his post-election opening bid.

In their own ways, Sen. Mitch McConnell and House Speaker John Boehner have handled the past couple of days rather expertly. McConnell's reaction to Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner's ludicrous proposal -- laughter -- was exactly right. It is a joke, and rather than railing at specific parts, a guffaw nicely communicates to voter how un-serious the president is at this point.

Likewise Boehner's more-in-sadness-than-in-anger tone after his call with Obama keeps his party from becoming unhinged and keeps a respectful dialogue with the president.

Addendum II

And finally, this all-too-true comment from Peggy Noonan [subscription only]:
You watch and wonder: Why does it always have to be cliffs with this president? Why is it always a high-stakes battle? Why doesn't he shrewdly re-enact Ronald Reagan, meeting, arguing and negotiating in good faith with Speaker Tip O'Neill, who respected very little of what the president stood for and yet, at the end of the day and with the country in mind, could shake hands and get it done? Why is there never a sense with Mr. Obama that he understands the other guys' real position?
Because at the end of the day, it's counter to amost all of Obama's life experience. From the time he was a boy, Obama sat at the knee of people—many people—who were extreme-Left, who viewed conservatives as the enemy, who taught a young Obama that social justice trumped all else, that achievement was a ruse to oppress the working people, that income redistribution was the right way. It worked, and today, although Obama sometimes plays the role of a moderate, he isn't even close. He's dealing with the "enemy" and his petulance and arrogance reflects exactly that.