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

Monday, August 01, 2011

Real Pain

Now that debt limit legislation has finally been proposed by the Senate and approved by the President, the extreme right and left end of the political spectrum are both upset. On the Right, there is the justifiable feeling that approving still more debt is not the way to reduce debt and that “cuts” are really nothing more than postponed reductions in the increase in spending. It is on the far Left, however, where heads are ready to explode.

Those on the far-Left, like Hendrik Hertzberg of The New Yorker are upset with the President because he agreed to a compromise. He simply wasn’t ideological enough for their taste. The meme recurs in other liberal media outlets (e.g., Salon, The New York Times, MSNBC)

Peter Wehner comments on this reaction:
This is sheer nonsense, of course. But Hertzberg’s comments are instructive. Rather than take into account the economic (and empirical) failure of Obama’s Keynesian approach, those who take a dogmatic, faith-based approach to American politics engage in intellectual contortions in order to try to innoculate their ideology from damage. People like Hertzberg begin from what is, for them, an unassailable proposition: liberalism is right because it is right and so it can never be wrong. And what happens when, by any objective standard, liberal policies fail? The problem is, they weren’t sufficiently liberal.

There are certain advantages to this approach. Those whose minds are obdurate and canonical –regardless of the philosophy they hold — don’t need to grapple with inconvenient facts. They have a reflexive response to every set of facts that challenges their worldview: ignore the facts. This doesn’t help one ascertain the truth. But it does avoid the hard work of facing up to the false assumptions on which their intellectual structure rests. Call it the comforting life of an ideological fanatic.

That’s why Nancy Pelosi suggests that spending cuts will “end life on our planet as we know it.” That’s why Barack Obama keeps insisting that taxing millionaires and billionaires will somehow reduce our indebtedness in a meaningful way (It. Will. Not.)

The only solution is to implement real and significant spending cuts. The current legislation doesn’t really do that, but it is a modest start—and yet, those on the far Left are apoplectic.

They choose to “ignore the facts” which are stark and growing worse. We cannot sustain our rate of domestic discretionary and entitlement spending—not even if we confiscate the entire net worth of “millionaires and billionaires.” Not even if we double the corporate tax rate. We can’t do it. It’s math. But those on the Left seem mathematically challenged and prefer to “engage in intellectual contortions in order to try to innoculate their ideology from damage.”

When backed to the wall, Leftists suggest that heartless “extremist” tea partiers driven by a demonical Grover Norquist want to starve children, push grandma off a cliff, and balance the budget on the backs of those who are least fortunate. They seem unable to conceive of concepts like means testing for government entitlements, or the establishment of spending priorities that would insulate the most vulnerable while significantly reducing spending overall.

If we don’t act now, we’ll be forced to act in 3 or 5 or 7 years. And when that time comes, all the moral preening in the world won’t protect the most vulnerable from draconian cuts in taxpayer support.

It’s ironic that by acting irresponsibly now, by suggesting that we can spend without limit, it is the Left who truly are heartless “extremists.” Because if the Left wins this debate, that victory sets the stage for real pain among the constituency they purport to care so much about.