I see that #NoMoreAusterity is trending on Twitter this morning. It seems the usual leftist protest sorts are rallying against the Cameron government’s “austerity.”
The only problem is it doesn’t exist.
Real austerity is cutting government spending until it matches receipts. Under David Cameron, deficit spending has merely gone from 11.4% of GDP in 2010 to a projected 5.8% in 2014. So the UK government hasn’t practiced austerity, it’s merely slowed the rate at which it’s digging its own grave.
For the protestors, this simply will not do. They want government to give them things, and if it means having the moribund economies of Greece and Spain, so be it.
But unlike Greece and Spain, the UK won’t be able to get Germany to bail them out, nor to hold down the hyperinflation that is the inevitable endpoint of excess deficit spending.
it turned out that Obamacare, despite all the massive brainpower behind it, had some “glitches,” in the same sense that the universe has some “atoms.”
Did anything good happen in 2013? Yes! There was one shining ray of hope in the person of Toronto Mayor Rob Ford , who admitted that, while in office, he smoked crack cocaine, but noted, by way of explanation, that this happened “probably in one of my drunken stupors.” This was probably the most honest statement emitted by any elected official this year, and we can only hope that more of our leaders follow Mayor Ford’s lead in 2014. (We mean being honest, not smoking crack in a drunken stupor.) (Although really, how much worse would that be?)
[January] begins with a crisis in Washington, a city that — despite having no industries and a workforce consisting almost entirely of former student council presidents — manages to produce 93 percent of the nation’s crises. This particular crisis is a “fiscal cliff” caused by the fact that for years the government has been spending spectacular quantities of money that it does not have, which has resulted in a mess that nobody could possibly have foreseen unless that person had a higher level of financial awareness than a cucumber. At the last minute, congressional leaders and the White House reach an agreement under which the government will be able to continue spending spectacular quantities of money that it does not have, thus temporarily averting the very real looming danger that somebody might have to make a decision.
Also stepping down is Hillary Rodham Clinton, who, after decades of public service, resigns as secretary of state so she will finally have a chance to spend some personal quality time with her team of campaign advisers.
As the federal budget deadline passes without Congress reaching agreement, the devastating, draconian, historically catastrophic sequester goes into effect, causing a mild reduction in the rate of increase in government spending that for some inexplicable reason goes unnoticed by pretty much everybody outside the federal government.
Iran announces that it is constructing a new uranium enrichment plant, which according to a government spokesman will be used for “youth sports.”
In sports, organizers of the Tour de France announce that this year they’re going to skip the bicycle-riding part and instead just gather all the competitors into a room and see who can do the most drugs.
the Obama administration decides to once again pivot back to the economy, which continues to falter because — economists agree unanimously on this — not enough presidential speeches have been given about it.
In politics, San Diego Mayor Bob “Bob” Filner resigns as a result of allegations that he is a compulsive serial horn dog who groped pretty much the entire female population of Southern California. He immediately becomes a leading contender in the New York City mayoral race.
The federal government, in an unthinkable development that we cannot even think about, partially shuts down. The result is a catastrophe of near-sequester proportions. Within hours wolves are roaming the streets of major U.S. cities, and bacteria the size of mature salmon are openly cavorting in the nation’s water supply. In the Midwest, thousands of cows, no longer supervised by the Department of Agriculture, spontaneously explode. Yellowstone National Park — ALL of it — is stolen. In some areas gravity stops working altogether, forcing people to tie themselves to trees so they won’t float away. With the nation virtually defenseless, the Bermudan army invades the East Coast, within hours capturing Delaware and most of New Jersey.
By day 17, the situation has become so dire that Congress, resorting to desperate measures, decides to actually do something. It passes, and the president signs, a law raising the debt ceiling, thereby ensuring that the federal government can continue spending spectacular quantities of money that it does not have until the next major totally unforeseeable government financial crisis, scheduled for February 2014.
Things do not go nearly as smoothly with the rollout of Obamacare , which turns out to have a lot of problems despite being conceived of by super-smart people with extensive experience in the field of being former student council presidents. The federal Web site, Healthcare.gov, is riddled with glitches, resulting in people being unable to log in, people getting cut off, people being electrocuted by their keyboards, people having their sensitive financial information suddenly appear on millions of TV screens during episodes of “Duck Dynasty,” etc.
Fortunately, as the initial rush of applicants tapers off, the system starts to work a little better, and by the end of the second week U.S. Secretary of Blame Kathleen Sebelius is able to announce that the program has amassed a total enrollment, nationwide, of nearly two people, one of whom later turns out to be imaginary. But this is not good enough for a visibly angry and frustrated and, of course, surprised President Obama, who promises to get the Web site fixed just as soon as somebody answers the Technical Support hotline, which has had the White House on hold for 73 hours.
public dissatisfaction with Obamacare continues to grow as many Americans discover that their current insurance plans are being canceled. A frustrated and — it goes without saying — surprised President Obama reveals to the nation that “insurance is complicated to buy” and clarifies that when he said “if you like your plan, you can keep your plan,” he was using “you” in the sense of “not necessarily you personally.”
I hardly need to tell you to read the whole thing, do I?
As Mark Steyn put it: “those Mayan guys only hold an apocalypse every few thousand years. Washington now has a Mayan apocalypse every six weeks, whether it’s the fiscal cliff or the debt ceiling, or now the sequestration…it’s talking about $44 billion dollars, or about what the United States government borrows every nine days.”
Write your senators and congressmen to let them know you oppose any “Fiscal Cliff” deal that doesn’t include substantial entitlement reform and real spending cuts, not dummy out-year cuts that will never happen. Write them now, because they will come under tremendous pressure to cave into big spending, big taxing Democrats desperate to keep that deficit spending heroin flowing.
Deficit spending will destroy our economy. The problem is not that we’re undertaxed, the problem is that the federal government spends insanely more money than we have in order to fund a vast array of crony capitalists, special interest groups, and permanent dole underclass for Democrats to milk for votes. If we continue down the current road, we will end up like Greece. There’s time to avoid going over the falls, but it’s getting shorter all the time.
Without spending reform, there’s a good chance that this nation of the people, by the people and for the people may very well perish from this earth.
I hope you’ve been enjoying your mythical Mayan Apocalypse.
But there’s a real, slow motion apocalypse that’s been going on all around you, and nobody is panicking about it, at least not in the open. I’m not talking specifically about the fiscal cliff, which is only a symptom of the problem rather than the problem itself.
The real apocalypse is out-of-control federal spending, and the tsunami of debt it’s creating. And I don’t feel “apocalypse” is too strong a word. Excessive debt destroys economies. When the money printing presses run unchecked for years on end, hyperinflation is the inevitable result.
The only reason we’re not suffering from hyperinflation right now is that Europe is sucking worse than we are. The Spanish economy is failing. The Greek economy has already failed. Were it not for that, it’s likely our huge budget deficits and the Fed’s printing presses would have already caused the Euro to replace the dollar as the world’s reserve currency. And, as Mark Steyn is fond of pointing out, Germany’s economy is big enough to bail out Greece and Spain. No one’s economy is big enough to bail us out.
Obama and the Democratic Party has wagered our future on the proposition that they can run trillion dollar deficits for years on end without destroying the value of the American dollar. If they’re right, they deserve to win, since everything we know about economics is wrong, and we can just print dollars until we’re all rich.
But the fundamental laws of economics haven’t been repealed. A reckoning is coming, and it’s going to destroy savings, economies and lives. And professional politicians, the Democratic Party, lobbyists and their mainstream media enablers would prefer to talk about anything else but the looming catastrophe. No wonder they want to talk about gun control and “the war on women.” Anything to keep the con game going until they’ve sucked the body politics dry. Just keep that deficit spending heroin coming.
The only question about that reckoning is exactly when it’s coming, and exactly how bad it will be. If we’re lucky, it will only be as bad as Argentina 2001. If we’re not, then we’re talking Weimer Germany 1921-23.
This piece by Dan McLaughlin encapsulates why the Tea Party exists, and why it has to fight a willfully heedless Republican establishment, so well that I’m going to quote whopping great chunks from it:
As anyone with a passing familiarity with Republican politics over the past four or five decades knows, conservative magazines and think tanks have been making detailed entitlement reform proposals for most of those years, and Republicans running for offices high and low have been running on platforms of reducing the size and cost of government for just as long. And then nothing happens.
That’s why Congress’ battles over the debt ceiling and related issues provide such a potent example. Basically all Republican Senators profess to be in favor of smaller government, and yet so few are willing to go to the barricades to make it a reality. Now, I’m a realist – there are limits to how much we could expect even a completely united GOP to bring home as long as Obama is the President and Harry Reid the Senate Majority Leader. But the repeated spectacle of leading pundits and Beltway Republicans tut-tutting Boehner and company for even trying to use their leverage to exact real concessions is a sign that the message Republican voters have been sending is not getting through to everyone.
The related point here – and one that says much about why RedState has put so much energy into intra-party primary battles rather than the production of white papers – is that personnel is policy. The ideas are already there; what is lacking is the necessary corps of people with the will to fight for them.
The point of my essay was not to denounce anyone, but to explain the history and depth of the current popular distrust on the Right of leaders who seem unwilling to lead. The battle to restrain runaway government spending is so much smoke and mirrors unless the people who profess to support it in word are dedicated to it in deed. No wealth of position papers, endorsements and Power Point presentations can demonstrate that. Voters and activists who have figured this out are rightly skeptical of those who don’t seem to “get it”. And they are more than willing to embrace flawed champions – even such a creature of the Beltway as Newt Gingrich – if they demonstrate the willingness to actually do something to stop the runaway train of federal spending. Every time some Beltway figure calls Newt or some Tea Party candidate crazy, voters think again, “he might actually be crazy enough to upset some applecarts to get things done.”
Since that piece came out December 19, it’s hardly cutting edge news. But I’ve been ruminating on it for a while to try and figure out if I have anything more to add. I think I do. And with the Iowa Caucuses looming, I probably should.
I haven’t covered much of the 2012 Presidential race, mainly because I’ve been focusing on the Texas Senate Race and everyone and their dog was blogging every twist in the POTUSA race.
OMG! Ron Paul is up 3 points!
Plus I don’t have cable, so I wouldn’t be able to watch the interminable numerous debates.
Finally, a baseball team the Astros can beat
Which is why I didn’t see Perry commit his brain freezes, of which there were many. (My theory is that he was still hopped up on goofballs from his back operation.)
Percocet makes me see tiny little Jim Hightowers, and I have to grab and crush each and every one of them
Having lived in Texas for the entirety of Rick Perry’s tenure as governor, I can attest that he is not a perfect candidate. There have been times (Gardasil, the Trans-Texas Corridor) when he’s strayed from conservative principles. And he’s not as polished as Mitt Romney or as articulate as Newt Gingrich.
But Perry isn’t running against the second coming of Ronald Reagan, or even Sarah Palin. Every other major Republican contender is not only at least as flawed, they’re considerably more so.
Despite cheer-leading from the likes of Kathryn Jean Lopez and Jennifer Rubin, Mitt Romney has always struck me as a phony without any real core convictions except that he should be in charge; sort of the Republican answer to Bill Clinton, without the charm or adultery. Pick an issue and Romney’s been on both sides of it at one time or another. He seems the most likely of all the major candidates to be praised by The New York Times and The Washington Post for “growing” in office. Romney is most likely to disappoint me in caving in to D.C.’s usual free-spending, pork-barrel log-rolling.
I could get behind voting for the Newt Gingrich of 1994, the one whose laser-like focus on the holding the Democrats accountable for their misdeed and promoting the Contract With America helped Republicans take the House and Senate, set the stage for a welfare reform and helped (temporarily) balance the budget. Sadly, that Gingrich is not up on offer. We have to deal with the idea-a-minute-and-many-of-them-bad, ex-lobbyist, “Big Government Conservative” Newt Gingrich of 2012, the one so devastatingly and accurately skewered by Mark Steyn in this week’s National Review. (As Bruce Sterling once said at a Turkey City Writer’s Workshop, “Cruel, but fair!”) No matter how many times he tries to sound like Reagan, there are all those other times when he sounds like everyone from Al Gore to Faith Popcorn. I imagine that I would be disappointed many times in a Gingrich Presidency. Unlike Romney, I’m sure Gingrich would find entirely new and innovative ways to disappoint me.
I could almost get behind Ron Paul, based on his absolute, rock-steady position on the biggest problem facing America: out-of-control government spending and ever-increasing size and power of the federal government. The debt bomb is an existential threat to American prosperity, and If we don’t shrink government and get the deficit under control, none of the other issues really matter. And I lean heavily on the libertarian side of the spectrum. But even given that, there’s just too much weirdness (what Kevin Williamson called “his Ronness”) about the rest of Paul’s policies: the newsletters, the footsie with racism, the conspiracy theories, the weirdness about gays and wishing Israel didn’t exist, the running against Reagan. Being just one of 435 House members was a great place for Paul to be, since he could bring up conservative and Libertarian issues without any chance that his wackier ideas would ever end up in legislation, but the Presidency is a different kettle of fish. Plus there’s the problem of his electability, or rather lack thereof. With all his diverse baggage, I believe that Paul is the GOP candidate Obama would have the best chance of defeating. Ignore all the hard-left liberals talking up Paul as a better choice than Obama; it’s just a smokescreen that would evaporate at the first excuse to jump back on the Obama bandwagon. William F. Buckley always said conservative should support the right-most viable candidate. I don’t think Paul is a viable candidate.
Michelle Bachmann’s star has faded even more than Perry’s, and she doesn’t have Perry’s executive experience or record on job creation. The fact she’s neither dumb nor crazy doesn’t mean the MSM won’t pull the Full Sarah Palin Treatment on her (Andrew Sullivan womb-diving optional) were she to get the nod.
Rick Santorum: Too little, too late, he lost his last election, and his strengths don’t lie in the economy and job creation.
Jon Huntsman: Which part of “Republican” was unclear?
By process of elimination, that leaves Perry. As I said before, Perry isn’t perfect, but he has a record on holding the line on government spending and enabling job creation that puts Romney to shame. One again, let’s go to the charts that the indispensable Will Franklin of Willisms has provided on Texas job creation:
And the case for Perry over Romney (again thanks to WILLisms) is even more stark:
While I have criticized Perry’s campaign budget proposals for being too timid, Perry insisted on balancing the Texas budget without tax hikes. I assure you that California would love to have Texas’ budget. Indeed, adjusted for inflation, population growth, and federally-mandated spending, the Texas state budget has actually gone down under Perry. His guiding principle has been “don’t spend all the money,” and it’s one that Washington desperately needs.
One final, very big reason to support Perry: He can win. Perry’s never lost a race, because he’s a tough and tenacious campaigner who’s not afraid to hit his opponents hard. Everyone thought Kay Bailey Hutchison was going to cream Perry in the 2010 governor’s race, and he beat her like a rented mule.
Or maybe a rented donkey.
In the general election against Bill White, he ran an ad featuring a police widow talking about how her husband had been killed by a multi-arrested illegal alien while White was touting Houston as a “sanctuary city.”
Even professional MSM Perry hater Paul Burka says that Perry is a hard man. “He is the kind of politician who would rather be feared than loved.” Perry will have absolutely no fear of taking the fight to Obama and going negative early and often, and he won’t let political correctness cow him into treating Obama with kid gloves.
Will the media savage Rick Perry for his flubs? Of course they will. But, as Ace noted, they’ll always find a way to crucify any Republican candidate to make Obama look better. They’ll use the same “he’s an idiot” line of attack they used on Reagan and Bush43…and you so how far that got them.
If you’re still undecided on Perry, this video should at least give you a more rounded picture of him:
For those who think Perry is already out of the race, remember that at this point in 2004, the consensus was that Howard Dean was going to be the nominee. There’s a reason Americans actually get to vote, and they frequently prove the pundits wrong.
But before we get to the sour let’s look at the sweet. There is a great deal to like in Perry’s proposals:
Repealing ObamaCare (though this is pretty much a requirement for every Republican office-seeker these days)
Repealing Dodd-Frank (which has held down the economy in many ways great and small)
A 20% flat tax is a vast improvement over the labyrinth complexities of our special-interest-group-carve-out-ridden Swiss cheese of a tax code. Also, you have to admire this graphic, which should have liberal knees jerking:
Eliminating the tax on dividends and long term capital gains is a big win that will help revive the economy and restore global competitiveness.
As is eliminating the death tax (although if it were possible to entirely fund the government from an estate tax rather than an income tax, that would be preferable, but it isn’t).
Eliminating corporate loopholes and tax breaks is also a great idea, but at this point it’s just a vague notion. Just about any candidate of any party could say the same thing, and without a list of the actual loopholes to be eliminated it’s fairly meaningless. This is also an area where few proposals survive contact with congress.
Reducing the corporate tax rate to 20% is a great idea, and one long championed by many free market economists.
The Perry plan has a lot of good ideas for reducing the regulatory burden on American business. A moratorium on all pending legislation, automatic sunset provisions, and a full audit of all regulations enacted since 2008 should go a long way toward undoing the Obama regulatory burden and getting American business and hiring back on track.
So outside of the budget provisions, there is an awful lot for conservatives to like about the Perry plan.
Even when it comes to the budget section, there’s a lot of conservative red meat: a non-tax hike balanced budget amendment, an end to baseline budgeting and concurrent resolutions (which bake bigger government into the process), and an end to earmarks. All solid initiatives, though the problem here is less presidential will than getting them through congress.
So, given all that, what am I complaining about?
What makes the Perry budget timid and unserious is his proposal to “balance the budget by 2020.” Given the way Washington works, a promise to balance the budget eight years from now is a promise to never balance the budget. It’s tea so weak it might as well be water. A balanced budget target that far out means that Congress can keep putting off difficult decisions by passing bills that place imaginary savings in out years where they will soon be rendered moot by the next congress. It’s once again a chance to sell out budget discipline for a handful of magic beans.
It’s, yet again, kicking the can down the road.
It’s also a big step back from the Ryan plan, which demanded a balanced budget in the 2015 timeframe. This was the plan seen by conservative Republicans and Tea Party activists as the minimum necessary for a serious reduction in the federal budget deficit. Given serious action wasn’t taken for it this year, it’s reasonable to push it that deadline out one more year to 2016, but pushing the target out beyond that amounts to preemptive surrender.
While Perry’s $100 billion first year down-payment would be an improvement over the weak, phony-baloney deficit reduction enacted as part of the debt limit deal, it’s a ridiculously small cut for the $1 trillion+ Obama deficits being racked up each fiscal year.
Bad as it is as policy, the Perry 2020 date is utterly disasterous as an opening position for negotiations with congress. Perry is going to have to set hard, early deficit targets to have any chance of taming the Leviathan, and then use his veto pen early and often if he doesn’t get them. The truth is that Democrats will scream bloody murder at any attempt at deficit reduction, so the next President might as well (to use the classic Ronald Reagan analogy) “throw long.” Every debt ceiling vote will have to come with both serious budget cuts and the other budget-taming proposals in the Perry plan. Democrats may still filibuster, but then they’ll have to deal with the crushing realities of living under a budget that actual matches spending to revenues. Even with a Republican House and Senate, to actually balance the budget the next President will need to push relentlessly to pass the most stringent budget that can muster 51 senator votes via reconciliation. Setting a 2020 date does nothing to prepare the media and ideological battlespaces for those difficult choices.
Out-of-control federal spending is at the heart of almost all our economic problems, and the single biggest factor behind Tea Party discontent. Thus it has to be at the top of the next President’s agenda. Despite many other solid economic idea, the Perry plan doesn’t meet the test for serious deficit reduction. The shame is that Perry accomplished real spending reform in Texas. To impose such discipline on the out-of-control federal budge will be an order of magnitude more difficult. But to achieve real spending reform, you first have to campaign for it. Setting a goal for a balanced budget at the end of a theoretical Perry presidency’s second term rather than the first actually hampers that goal.