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

Sunday, October 06, 2013


Profligate and irresponsible (if not downright wasteful) spending happens at all levels of government. At the local level, spending is constrained because, well, it's local. Citizens in a town or county can see where spending goes, and there is a direct connection to tax rates and to the politicians that set them. At the state level, significant spending waste occurs, but it is constrained to some extent. After all, every state governor and legislature is required by law to balance its budget. That doesn't mean that state pols are always responsible, but it does mean that they can still be held accountable every two and four years by citizens who are close enough to the spending to understand it.

At the federal level—all bets are off. Spending is profligate, often wasteful and unnecessary, inefficient, and worst of all, made possible with dollars that are borrowed (increasing our debt) and must be repaid by our children and grandchildren. Every Administration and Congress is guilty of irresponsible, unnecessary spending. Every president tells us that he'll "reform" the system, and all of them fail. In the past they've failed because any spending cuts affect a constituency (e.g. unions, corporations, federal workers, the list is endless) that pushes back, often using politicians as hired demagogues who demonize those who advocate cuts. So government grows without bound and in the process becomes more intrusive, less effective, and ever more voracious.

The presidency of Barack Obama has had all of this happen, but unlike other administrations, there appears to be no controls or constraint. It's spending and debt on steroids! Aided by a democratic Senate that appears to operate with a hive mind, Barack Obama and his band of political hacks blithely increase spending and debt to historic levels and then, demonize those who ask for restraint. Some say that the current government shutdown is a failure of leadership from this president, but in reality it was absolutely predictable. Barack Obama is an ideologue who is enamored with the growth of government. He favors unrestricted growth not because it's good for the country, or the economy, or individual citizens (the "middle class" he talks so much about) but because government largess solidifies his and his party's grip on power. After all, the more things you give away (read: the more you spend) the more likely those who benefit from that spending will support you in your efforts. It's a brilliant (if venal) strategy—that is, until the money runs out. And the money will run out.

Today, 17 percent of the government is shut down. With the exception of this administration's laughable attempts at maximizing public discomfort (my favorite is restricting access to scenic overlooks so that tourists can't view the Mt. Rushmore Memorial from state highways), relatively few citizens are affected. Government workers will get paid vacations and the rest of us who go to work every day will get to pay them (via our tax dollars) for not working.

This is all a warm-up for the upcoming debt limit "negotiations." But this President is perfectly willing to maintain his no negotiation stand, and as a consequence, he may just win it all. Sadly, the country will lose it all over the long run.


Peggy Noonan provides an insightful take on the upcoming debt limit "negotiations" when she writes:
... the president has repeated over and over, in different venues and to different audiences, including on the phone with the speaker, that he will not negotiate. At first it looked as if he was saying he wouldn’t negotiate on ObamaCare. But he has allowed it to morph into a blanket statement that he won’t negotiate on the debt limit.

But presidents do negotiate on the debt limit. They have to. They can’t not negotiate it. And if the president keeps not negotiating, he is going to look like the man who caused a U.S. government default—an outcome of a whole other order of magnitude. He’s going to look that way because he allowed himself to look that way. And the reasons for his stand look exactly like this: miscalculation, stubbornness and pride.

People keep saying the Republicans don’t seem to have a clear endgame, and that’s true. But at this point I don’t see a clear, clean endgame for the White House.

It is a funny thing but the Republicans rescued Mr Obama from his troubles the past 10 days by going at him over defunding. Now Mr. Obama is rescuing them from their mistake. And once again there’s every sign No Drama Obama will add to the sense that he is really Endless Drama Obama—bringer of nonstop face-offs, constant brinksmanship, nerve-jangling cliffs.