January 18th, 2013

Backing off on the debt ceiling battle

I bet a lot of you will disagree, but I think that, on the whole, the GOP is right not to choose this particular hill to die on. Kicking the can down the road may not usually be such a hot idea, but it buys time here and creates at least a sense of being willing to negotiate and compromise on their part.

They were not going to win this battle in any case; as Krauthammer points out, their position post-November 2012 is not strong:

In reality, Republicans have a broad consensus on what they believe, where they want to go and the program to get them there. But they don’t have the power. What divides Republicans today is a straightforward tactical question: Can you govern from one house of Congress? Should you even try?

Can you shrink government, restrain spending, bring a modicum of fiscal sanity to the country when the president and a blocking Senate have no intention of doing so?

One faction feels committed to try. It wishes to carry out its small-government electoral promises and will cast no vote inconsistent with that philosophy. These are the House Republicans who voted no on the “fiscal cliff” deal because it raised taxes without touching spending. Indeed, it increased spending with its crazy-quilt crony-capitalist tax ”credits” — for wind power and other indulgences.

They were willing to risk the fiscal cliff. Today they are willing to risk a breach of the debt ceiling and even a government shutdown rather than collaborate with Obama’s tax-and-spend second-term agenda.

The other view is that you cannot govern from the House. The reason Ryan and John Boehner finally voted yes on the lousy fiscal-cliff deal is that by then there was nowhere else to go. Republicans could not afford to bear the blame (however unfair) for a $4.5 trillion across-the-board tax hike and a Pentagon hollowed out by sequester…

The more prudent course would be to find some offer that cannot be refused, a short-term trade-off utterly unassailable and straightforward. For example, offer to extend the debt ceiling through, say, May 1, in exchange for the Senate delivering a budget by that date — after four years of lawlessly refusing to produce one.

Not much. But it would (a) highlight the Democrats’ fiscal recklessness, (b) force Senate Democrats to make public their fiscal choices and (c) keep the debt ceiling alive as an ongoing pressure point for future incremental demands.

Republicans should develop a list of such conditions — some symbolic, some substantive — in return for sequential, short-term raising of the debt ceiling. But the key is: Go small and simple. Forget about forcing tax reform or entitlement cuts or anything major. If Obama wants to recklessly expand government, well, as he says, he won the election.

Republicans should simply block what they can. Further tax hikes, for example. The general rule is: From a single house of Congress you can resist but you cannot impose.

Aren’t you failing the country, say the insurgents? Answer: The country chose Obama. He gets four years.

Want to save the Republic? Win the next election.

Some will call that spineless surrender, typical RINO garbage, and the very reason they hate the GOP. I call it realistic, although I understand those arguments, and hold no brief for most of the Republicans in Congress now. But the most important fight—the one for the hearts and minds of the American people—is going to have to be waged in the institutions about which we’ve spoken: education, media, pop culture. And the bravado of brinksmanship is not going to do a thing for the larger cause.

I have excerpted at length from Krauthammer’s piece because I think it’s easy to misunderstand his argument if you only read part of it. But let me also add that he gives a historic example: Gingrich’s battle with Clinton, which Gingrich lost. It wasn’t lost because Gingrich was a RINO, or because he lacked spine, either. Here’s a summary of what happened back then, when Clinton snatched victory from the jaws of defeat.

Now, fire away.

[NOTE: I would add that the House could, and probably should, choose a couple of important fiscal (or other) issues about which to pass bills---bills they know will be defeated in the Senate and/or vetoed---just to go on record as to what they would do if they had more power. As a statement of intent. They can't do too much of this or they will be accused of frivolously wasting time on bills that will go nowhere, however. But one or two might be good, I think.]

32 Responses to “Backing off on the debt ceiling battle”

  1. Mr. Frank Says:

    Right on, Neo.

  2. Sam L. Says:

    I have to agree.

  3. southpaw Says:

    Neo-
    I listened to Krauthammer and it’s not a new stance for him on this topic. He was highly critical of the debt ceiling battle they waged right after winning the house.
    No surprise here, but I don’t agree. Their definition of “practical” is to keep their seats, from whence they may continue to go along with whatever is least likely to get them thrown out. This isn’t a strategy to live to fight another day, it’s a strategy to survive as politicians. So caving is the answer for Republican survival; however the end result is no different than if they were not there at all – you might as well have a real Democrat in the House.
    Republicans under Boehner have yet to demonstrate a willingness block anything that Obama wants. If winning to them is voting with Obama and the democrats, how would you define losing?
    I’m struggling with this because you and Krauthammer are saying the American people elected Obama, and so the House should give him what he wants, but then you must also accept the local constituents voted for their reps because they believe they are the most likely to give Obama what he wants.
    If you or Krauthammer don’t accept this, then why should the people of their respective districts throw them out? shouldn’t they expect to get what they want?
    I presume they were elected by majorities, so the simplest explanation for their refusal to fight is this: They ran as moderates or quasi-democrats in their districts, and were elected on the understanding they would not oppose Obama or disrupt the status quo.
    If I am wrong about this, then as winners of their district elections, they should be able to make the case to their constituents for opposing Obama, or more logically, it’s understood they would have their constituents’ support.
    This notion they will lose the house for opposing Obama can only be true if they have promised their districts the wouldn’t upset the apple cart. In which case, it becomes painfully obvious they have no intention of dying on a hill, not now, not ever. If you or Krauthammer honestly believe these guys will take a stand on the “next battle”, you’re dreaming.

    That is the same excuse they used when they agreed to raise taxes — the debt ceiling was the “next battle” and it would be waged with vigor and they would hold the president’s feet to the fire. That is, er, until they saw a national poll that said they were unpopular. There is no reason to vote for these guys if you expect anything different, majority or not. They’re ONLY objective is to stay in office and they will offer up any excuse to insure it.
    I think Krauthammer is pretty intelligent, but I am not sure his logic holds up if you ask the simple question — If they are going to lose their seats for opposing Obama and trying to get a handle on runaway debt, then what were they sent there to do, if it wasn’t to rubber stamp the president’s ideas?

  4. nyght Says:

    a British Prime Minister has returned from Germany bringing peace with honour. I believe it is peace for our time.

    What hill is the one to die on? In the context of the quote linked to above, would it be when they invade our country? When they firebomb London and destroy St. Paul’s?

    I had an exchange with a liberal friend of mine, who I may not ever talk to again because of the exchange (She believes the TEA Party is a bunch of racist old white bigots who are essentially a branch of the KKK, and I “outed” myself as agreeing with much of them), but that remains to be seen.

    Here’s part of what I wrote concerning “compromise”.

    I don’t know if that means I am an extremist, but I would like to note that the idea of compromise for someone like me isn’t really available. My belief system doesn’t allow for an ever expanding government. To the extent compromise is available, it has already been exhausted. IE – The federal government has already grown well beyond the scope I would consider healthy, and it is my view that they have already proven that they are incapable of handling the tasks that they are already liable for. Is “compromise” for me, “Well, ok, let’s try it as just a little bit bigger,” and see what happens? I think we are already overloaded with bureaucratic red tape. Is compromise “Well, let’s have just a little more bureaucracy” when I already think there’s far too much? Do you begin to see my quandary here? When one side believes that we need to spend more and more, and I believe we are already spending far too much, the only real compromise is to freeze spending. You can reorganize how what is being spent is spent, but agreeing to spend “just a little more” isn’t compromise, it’s bending my will to the other side.

    And I will note that insofar as I am a single issue voter, there it is. I am a math guy, and the numbers and trillion+ dollar deficits as far as the eye can see is suicidal. At the rate we are spending, the entire world cannot feed our habits for long. Think of it this way: For every trillion dollars we go into debt, according to the census, every man, woman, and child in the United States owes $3,300 to pay for it. The current debt total (on the books, if you include the unfunded liability of Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, it is much, much more) is $16 trillion dollars. At the end of President Obama’s 2nd term, his own number crunchers are saying that we will be in excess of $20 trillion in debt. Do the math, and you have 20 * 3,300 = $66,000 for every man, woman, and child in the United States. Thus, a family of four, by the end of the next election cycle, will be on the hook for $264,000. This is a slight simplification of the argument, but it is useful to illustrate that we simply cannot pay for this. From a monetary standpoint, we are fast approaching the point where the only way to pay our way back is to fire up the printing presses and inflate the debt. This is something that the Weimar Republic tried just before they collapsed, which paved the way for the Nazis and fascism, which then led to WWII. Inflation on that scale is a very dangerous thing to do, because it is unpredictable. And our debtees are unlikely to thank us should we attempt to do that.

    Obama may have won the election, but the populace is at this point, I believe, fractured beyond repair.

    I know you feel we have to take the country back via education, pop culture, etc. There’s a case to be made for that, but… It took the left what, 40 years to make the gramscian march through the schools? Look at the math in paragraph 2 of my quote. That math deals only with the current debt on the books, and not the unfunded liability of SS, Medicare/caid, etc.

    With this in mind, I would ask you…

    What time do you think we have? Do you honestly believe that we have the time to perform our own gramscian march through the system and still right the ship before the total of the civil society collapses on itself via debt? Because that’s where we’re headed.

    Don’t fight about the “fiscal cliff”! It’s not the hill to die on! Don’t fight about the debt ceiling (2x in the past year now?), it’s not the hill to die on! Don’t fight about immigration! It’s not the hill to die on!

    If the attitude that we must choose a better hill to die on continues, with every crisis (of which, they are never ending anymore…) then we’re already dead.

    At what point DO we take a stand? Krauthammer, et all keep telling us that this isn’t the hill to die on, but not a single one has bothered to offer which hill is the one to die on. Would you advise the GOP in the House to take a stand when they are presented with gun legislation from the Senate (because that’s coming)? Or should we just cave there too? What about if we just raise the debt ceiling a teensy bit, and let Obama et all demagogue the issue in 3 months… Will it be the hill to die on then? If so, why then, and not now? Why even try to keep it incremental to keep it in the press so Obama et all can just demagogue the issue again and make us out to be obstructionists… If it’s not the hill to die on now, it won’t be then either, so why not just give Obama the authority to unilaterally raise the debt ceiling to at least get it out of the public eye so we can’t be called obstructionists?

    If the prevailing attitude is that Obama won and has 4 more years, we might as well just rubber stamp everything he does. Then maybe the press and pop culture will stop calling us obstructionists. Then they’ll just call us closet racists who have no spine and are insignificant. And for at least the last 2, they would be right.

    I’ve seen so many people talk about how “it’s not the hill to die on” in the last 2 years or so that I just have to wonder… Which IS the hill to die on? Where/when do we take a stand?

  5. expat Says:

    I read somewhere today that they are planning a 3-month extension on the debt ceiling, but that any sunsequent extension is contingent on the senate producing a budget within that timespan. I like that idea because it puts Reid in the spotlight a the one to blame for future problems. It also gives them another chance to point out that Obama’s only submitted budget was rejected by dems too.

  6. George Pal Says:

    Obama’s playing GO. His strategists have contingencies for the contingencies. They are twelve steps ahead of the GOP who keep playing tic-tac-toe. The media have the Democrats and Obama’s back – any missteps or miscalculations will be ‘fixed’. The hearts and minds are not much worth having if the minds cannot comprehend the predicament we have been in for over a decade now.

    Mr. Krauthamer wants to continue highlighting the Democrat’s fiscal recklessness. He and the GOP could not make that evident over four years time and one national campaign in which the GOP made the recklessness the linchpin of their argument. There comes a time, when you’ve capitulated long enough, that the recklessness becomes as much your own as the Democrats’.

    Personally, I believe that time has passed some time ago but others who think not had better prepare their mea culpa.

  7. southpaw Says:

    Nyght – well said and that is the point exactly – what hill ido they think is worth dying on ? What hill did their constituents send to defend?
    The media is not going to applaud them for compromise; they never have. The more Obama beats them down, the more they encourage him to keep up the beatings.
    Obama is a a bully, and he’s got the perfect bunch of wimps to slap around. They’re afraid to stand up to him, and he knows it. Until they’re willing to get a bloody nose, they’re, going to be relegated to laying on the floor with their hands over their heads, pleading for him to stop kicking them. He’s not going to do that. If they think the media is going to feel sorry for them and break up the fight, because they want to compromise, they’re pathetic and very mistaken.

  8. rickl Says:

    Want to save the Republic? Win the next election.

    How does he propose the Republican Party win elections, when they are hemorrhaging voters precisely because they are seemingly unable to articulate any kind of principles?

  9. Hattip Says:

    Their position is not “strong”? Hogwash. They hold the House. This is their DUTY! This is just why we have a House!

    This is just a political reponse and not a moral one. We here this over and over, such and such is a wise politcal move. Enough. Stand on principles.

    The Deomcrats will steal the house in ’14 anyway.

  10. neo-neocon Says:

    rickl: then they need to start articulating principles better, obviously.

    But refusing to raise the debt ceiling in this case, at least temporarily—although staunch conservatives may understand that they are defending a principle by doing that—will not win them any elections. The vast majority of Americans —the vast majority—see it as playing chicken with the country’s credit. And believe me, the most articulate person in the world could not convince them otherwise.

    There are other, more productive ways to articulate principles. By the way, it takes much more than articulation of principles to change opinions. You have to get the media to report it, and report it without spinning it. You have to get people to listen (it helps to have a pleasant personality rather than an off-putting, boring, or distant one). You have to get them to actually hear. And you have to get them to understand.

    It is nice to think articulation is what is needed. That may have been true in Reagan’s time, but a lot of people also voted for him because they liked him. I am also convinced that he was able to be elected because the education system and media hadn’t quite corrupted the minds of that many people yet, although they’d gotten their hooks into quite a few. I do not think Reagan could be elected today, although I suppose it would depend who he was running against.

    That’s why I think a much more broad and deep change is needed, targeting those areas I mentioned, especially education. It’s difficult but necessary. And we are running out of time, if we haven’t already.

    Failing to raise the debt ceiling for the moment does none of that. It satisfies the staunch fiscal conservatives, and that’s all. I have long perceived that they think that their numbers are great enough, plus their persuasive powers and the strength and obvious truth of their message powerful enough, that if someone would just articulate it well enough, they would win. I have long perceived that as a pleasant delusion on their part.

  11. parker Says:

    A bit of folksy wisdom:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jj4nJ1YEAp4

    I actually approve of the idea of a small, short term raise in the debt limit and making BHO and the dem controlled senate go on record with what we all know will be a budget with 1+ trillion in deficits and no entitlement reform. Team Obama has provided 3 issues that need to be exploited by the house republicans and the red states: F&F, Benghazi, and now the EO over reach on firearms.

    Its time for the States that are willing to reassert their sovereign rights under federalism and push back on ‘gun control’. Its time for house republicans to hit BHO where he is vulnerable. For the first time since the election I’m returning to my usual optimism.

  12. nyght Says:

    Southpaw – I read your post just after I posted mine. Was actually thinking, “Hey! That’s almost exactly what I said!” :)

    Neo – I see what you’re saying, and I understand it. I am not totally convinced that it would be a vast majority, but I do believe that the majority would see it as playing chicken with the country’s credit. Because Obama and the media have been drilling that into their heads for… really the last 2-3 years, since we first started having these skirmishes over the debt limit.

    But the problem is that as days, weeks, and years go by, this will only get worse. I believe that at some point, you have to take a stand. Like it or hate it, but most likely, today, we have the strongest hand we are going to have for the full duration of the country. It’s the only hand we have to play, and the deck is totally stacked against us.

    And I don’t want to be a Debbie-Downer or doomsayer, but the simple math doesn’t add up for this country in even the short term (10-20 years).

    Since it’s NFL Playoff Season… It’s like being in the opposing team’s stadium, with a hostile crowd, down by 2 scores with 20 seconds left. You have the ball on your own 20, and this is a game you have no right winning at this point. But you have to play. And if you want to play to win… Your only real option is to throw a Hail Mary, hope your guy comes up with it for the score, then get the onside kick, and throw another Hail Mary, and hope that your guy can catch it again. And the opposing team, the coaches, the people in the stadium, and even the world knows that’s your only out.

    The clock is ticking down, and you have 2 options. The first is to just lay it all out on the field and hope that somehow you win. The other is to punt, let time expire, and try to go get them next year. But that assumes that there is a next year.

    I know the staunch fiscal conservatives numbers are few. If they weren’t, we wouldn’t be in this mess. Even more appropriately, they never would have made Math is Tough Barbie (awkward attempt at humor).

    Broad and deep change may be necessary, but we simply don’t have the time.

    And right now, we’re punting. I think mathematically, we have 5-6 years left before things really start to fall apart here. At that point, it won’t matter 1 whit who the populace blames, or what the credit rating is.

    At some point, you have to make a stand and say “no”. I’ve been reading and lurking here for years, and I’ve read several “this is not the hill to die on” style articles, not just here, but from Krauthammer, GF Will, Billy Kristol, Noonan, etc.

    I’ll ask again… Which is the hill we should choose to die on? The impotence of the Republican party for my entire political life has split the party to the point that a large portion of the base is done with them. We’ve been holding our nose to vote for the party candidate for president since I can remember.

    If they can’t stand up for something, anything, anywhere, there’s going to be a fracture in the party, and a 3rd party will rise to challenge not just the Dems, but the GOP, which will guarantee the Dems a majority for the lifetime of the country. And it will be the GOPs own damn fault, because every single hill for the past 20 years has not been the one to die on.

    My mom has said for years that the Republicans have no idea the stakes of the fight they’re in. We’re past the point that this can be about a popularity contest or winning elections.

    For me, I’m 34. And I fully expect to see the end of the United States of America as we know it within my lifetime. Quite probably before I’m 40.

  13. Don Carlos Says:

    Southpaw and nyght have it exactly right. Exactly right.

    I am not going to sit around, waiting with Krauthammer and Neo for things to magically and ever-so-gradually work themselves out. We do not have the time. The clock has run out. Ill-timed patience is not a virtue when the house is afire. There are too many examples in the past century where the Krauthammer patience cost millions their lives, to say nothing about their fortunes or sacred honor.

    In terms of making personal decisions in a time such as this, it is better to be too early than too late.

  14. parker Says:

    “And I don’t want to be a Debbie-Downer or doomsayer, but the simple math doesn’t add up for this country in even the short term (10-20 years).”

    You are an optimist! If DC stays on the present course it will all fall down in 3-5 years.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gnB4qvO3xOk

    We all fall down, and some will fall further than others. It is absolutely impossible to tax and/or grow out of this situation.

  15. blert Says:

    Canute’s stance… then the deluge?

    In a democratic republic it’s not enough to be more righteous; one must bring the polity around.

    Often, that turning is only to be had by the schooling of harder knocks.

    Instead of making 0bomba’s poison go down smooth, one should circle ’round the towline.

    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0046816/

    Like slavery, some political themes just can’t be avoided by discourse, the call to reason.

    Instead, Stashism must be grounded upon the shallows.

    It was the bottom falling out that turned the Soviet Union and Red China.

    ———-

    The current cash-flow budget of the US Federal Government effectively levies a wealth tax on the rest of the planet. In crude terms that tax covers approximately one fifth of all Federal expenditures.

    Because 0bomba is roundly abusing the US Dollar — via his Stashist policies (Chicago on the Potomac) that percentage will collapse towards zero before 2016. (Repatriated currency will match currency exports. BTW, most American currency is held overseas – in one-hundred Dollar bills.)

    Lost on the Left, cut-backs in DoD expenditures don’t hardly help the Federal deficit at all. For those high dollar outlays result in ‘rebated revenues.’ Defense contractors pay top dollar wages — which, with graduated income tax rates — and the multiplier effect — come pouring back into the tax base. Foreign spending by the DoD comes back as relentless purchases of US Treasuries. Cash-flow wise, this debt-paper never comes back. As it matures, it’s rolled over. It becomes the reserve currency basis for expanding their national currency. America is back-stopping the planet Earth.

    As the DoD budget is cut, income tax receipts vaporize. Further, the willingness of other nations and their citizens to hold US Dollars and our government’s debt-paper evaporates.

    Historically, this is why the British, post-war, government of Atlee couldn’t stop the tailspin in London’s power – from 1945 through 1951.

    It was a tale of non-stop budget crisis. The Royal Navy shrunk 90%. The Pound Sterling, step-wise, stopped being International Money — and it came back home — with a cash-flow vengeance.

    0bomba = Atlee

    That’s the equation.

    Even Churchill couldn’t reverse the damage done. International-Currency rejection is permanent.

    It was the Atlee government — socialism — that gutted the British economy — not WWII.

    All of the continental powers suffered far, far more than Britain. Yet, by not having Atlee, they’d all surpassed her by 1970.

    Socialist taxation shut down British innovation — and rationalization of resources.

    It’s this las effect that casts the larger shadow. Socialists of every stripe embrace the (economic) world-vision of their grand-parents. This truism is never more true that with Barry.

    Barry’s embrace of Marxism will never end until the money-pot runs out. Then it will be a cliff-event.

    It is essential that rational opponents nail his crew to the mast.

    The Sarkozy-Hollande dynamic is what happens when this is not done. The polity simply moves ever Leftward — blaming the cure.

  16. parker Says:

    “In terms of making personal decisions in a time such as this, it is better to be too early than too late.”

    Don Carlos,

    Haven’t you already made your personal decisions on how to deal with the (appears to be highly likely) economic collapse? I, and many others, have been preparing for 20 years. I’m not talking about the youtube BS, I’m talking about a real assessment of what has been unfolding before our eyes since 1992.

  17. parker Says:

    blert,

    Very apt post. “Barry’s embrace of Marxism will never end until the money-pot runs out. Then it will be a cliff-event.” Much sooner than later. Gentlemen and ladies don your parachutes.

  18. southpaw Says:

    Neo you are still arguing that not raising the borrowing limit is a political statement and not a legitimate policy. Why? No serious conservative is viewing this as a symbolic political gambit- it’s about the debt!
    And you still have not answered the central question – why will the republicans lose their seats if they were elected to be republicans? You keep invoking “the country ” how they view congress, but ignore the reality their districts put them there.
    And how are they supposed to get the senate to pass a budget if Harry Reid KNOWS they will just cave again? He will call Boehners bluff like he always does, and blow raspberries at him from the floor of the senate. In order for a bluff to be effective, the people youre trying to bluff need to believe you are serious. Do you honestly think anybody in Washington takes Boehner seriously? Boehner is a laughing stock.
    We will be arguing about this every three months until the 2014 elections. And by 2016, when the debt is 20 trillion, the democrats will rightly point out that under a republican led house, national debt continued to skyrocket, and they did nothing – in fact- they VOTED to keep it going.
    This Krauthammer strategy is brilliant- vote along to make things worse, then when the start to collapse, blame Obama! Americans will finally see the light! The media will blame Obama too!
    The House republicans can’t articulate any principles because they dont have any, save the principle of self preservation, at everyone else’s expense. Boehner will be the first speaker in a long time to lose the majority in a presidents second term, but it will not be my fault or all the other conservatives that he and his cadre of RINOS blame. It will be his own incompetence and cowardice. And to some extent, the advice of people who have a bad track record when it comes to being right.

  19. rickl Says:

    southpaw Says:
    January 18th, 2013 at 7:52 pm

    The House republicans can’t articulate any principles because they dont have any, save the principle of self preservation, at everyone else’s expense.

    Exactly so. That’s much more accurate than my earlier comment.

  20. parker Says:

    Politicians are politicians, they earn more than the best paid whores except for the crème de la crème which earn several thousand per hour. But unlike politicos, the crème de la crème call girls do not often acquire lucrative lobbyist positions once they are ‘out of office’. I want a 20′ high by 10′ thick wall of concrete topped by barbed wire around DC and let no one out under the penalty of death. DC is the enemy. It has been the enemy since 1791. It has grown ever more vicious and powerful year by year over the centuries.

    Dust come to dust you must prepare to do more than stab it with the steely knives of rhetoric. But hold tight, do not over react. If you don’t realize when dust come down to dust you are not paying attention. We are not there yet, and I hope we do not reach that point. I have my own line in the sand. When it is crossed I will not talk about it, I will act.

    http://tinyurl.com/aatf8ay

    http://www.earlyamerica.com/earlyamerica/milestones/whiskey/

    I realize I appear to be ‘radical’ but I just do not care. I’m a simple country boy.

  21. J.J. formerly Jimmy J. Says:

    If the House refuses to raise the debt limit, what happens? The Treasury will have to cut spending by $1.3 trillion/annum or about $3.34 billion per day. The Obama Treasury will, of course, quit sending out the money that is most visible to taxpayers while continuing to pay interest on the debt. (Anyone think they wouldn’t politicise it like that?) Withholding Social Security checks comes to mind. Tax refunds could be withheld. Military pay could be withheld. I don’t know all the financial chaos that would ensue from those maneuvers, but it would be pretty bad. At least as bad as the collapse in 2008, maybe worse. I do know who would get the blame. And it wouldn’t be Obama. The Republicans would be forced by enraged citizens to come back to the bargaining table in defeat.

    The Republicans can fight delaying actions, they can get concessions here and there, but they can’t run the government from the House. Any Republican, conservative, or libertarian who didn’t vote for Romney should have realized this could happen. Because Obama won and the Senate is still democrat controlled, we are like guerrillas in enemy territory. We cannot defeat them in a head to head battle. What the Republicans are trying to do, unsuccessfully so far, is to put the spotlight on the fecklessness of Obama and the Harry Reid Senate. The MSM won’t tell the story so the low information voters are clueless. Just once I would like to see a TV reporter ask Harry Reid why he hasn’t produced a budget in the last four years. That would shine a light on how corrupt he is. Just once I’d like to hear a TV reporter ask Obama why he hasn’t insisted that the Senate produce a budget so he could have a spending blueprint. The only thing that is going to wake enough people up is for enough things to go wrong as the debt piles up that, eventually, even clueless people will begin to take notice. Possibly that could happen by 2014 and the Republicans might gain control of both houses. That’s what we have to work towards.

    It’s painful to watch all this and know that we are headed for a financial cliff. My advice is to support the Republicans in doing whatever they can, (They really can’t do much, IMO.) but prepare for the cliff. The longer it is before we fall, the more time we have to prepare.

  22. Don Carlos Says:

    parker-
    Yes, I have made decisions, but they are not cast in stone. They require situational adaptation.
    Yes, I have my emergency gold, and have prospered with precious metals investments until the past year.

    I have my broader thoughts as to what to do with my assets, but they shall remain private. All I can say is that Germany in 1933 is my historical model for the present times. Thus my “It is better to be too early than too late”.

  23. blert Says:

    JJ…

    I don’t know where it comes from, but the notion that the President can shut off Social Security FIRST is absurd.

    The Democrat Party — over the years — has rigged the laws such that it’s the last thing that a president can do. (‘Cause most of that time the president was a Republican.)

    The retired are STILL a Democrat demographic. They’re NOT going to be touched.

    The first place that Barry is going to cut is DoD and Federal matching funds to the states. The first is a Republican demographic. The second pinches a fist-full of Republican governors — they out number the Democrat governors.

    Federal matching funds are STAGGERING. They’ve reached the point that they account for as much as half of state cash-flow — especially in those states that have generally low taxation. (Conservative)

    The next target would be slow paying every manner of Federal contractor. That’s what the states have ALWAYS done.

    The other prime target would be Big Medicine. Because the Federal hand is already so heavy, it’d be short work to re-vet payouts and re-tune co-pays.

    Once 0bamaCare kicks in — many a plug can be pulled.

    As the crisis unfolds, Barry will, of course, propose a batch of ‘emergency’ tax measures.

    (Please, don’t throw me in that brier patch!)

    ———–

    Ultimately, as the crisis swamps the ship of state, Congress will raise the retirement age for Social Security — and all will be right with the world.

  24. J.J. formerly Jimmy J. Says:

    Don Carlos said, “All I can say is that Germany in 1933 is my historical model for the present times.”

    I’m thinking more like Argentina in 2000. Take a look at what happened there. Another somewhat less apt model is Zimbabwe since 1989.

    The downward spiral will be much slower until the bitter end because this country has so much more productive capacity than Argentina or Zimbabwe. I think another fiscal crisis like 2008 with a 30% to 40% drop in asset values would create more deflation. If enough producing power (food, energy, manufacturing, etc.) was lost as to create shortages along with the market being flooded with cash, then we could see inflation.

    The most likely outcome is we wake up one morning, as they did in Argentina, and find out all our dollars are worthless as a new currency replaces it. Don’t forget that the government can also outlaw using gold as money or even owning it. Remember FDR? There is no simple answer.

    I expect that the Federal government will propose selling assets. They own a huge amount of real estate and buildings all over the country. That would assuage the creditors for awhile.

    blert said, “I don’t know where it comes from, but the notion that the President can shut off Social Security FIRST is absurd.”

    Yeah, but Obama has already said in a press conference that SS and millitary pay were likely to be withheld. See this:
    http://tinyurl.com/5uahr4c
    Has Obama given us any evidence that he cares about the laws? Once the debt ceiling is reached and they proceed to cut, the cuts, IMO, will be aimed at the demographic that will scream the loudest – people who need the money to pay their everyday bills. The outraged hue and cry is what would stampede the Republicans to come back to the table and raise the debt ceiling. And who gets blamed for it? The Republicans because that is the narrative the MSM will trumpet.

  25. Otiose Says:

    Krauthammer, Neo,and many good points made. This is the issue to be discussed.

    All the fervor for a hill to die on though might better be redirected. We shouldn’t emulate the WWII Japanese for whom tactical retreat was something to despise. After all as Krauthammer and others point out the other side won the election holding on to both the Presidency and the Senate, which guarantees certain bad trends (that started prior to Obama although he’s accelerated them) will do a lot of damage to our standard of living before there’s any hope of bringing them under control/reversing them.

    Anyway, we need to forget about which hill to die on and look for the hill they can die in front of. Americans got caught short in Korea and had to retreat all the way back to Pusan before the ‘other side’ revealed weaknesses we could exploit to turn things around.

    We should look for ways to resist and stop the implementation of bad laws and policies, keeping in mind we can’t impose the solutions we would likely prefer. Keep in mind also that the other side has the executive and the Senate and they can return the favor too pretty much stopping/resisting anything we want to do with at least as much fervor and righteous indignation as we can muster.

    Unfortunately as important as the House is, the real damage is being done out of our reach entirely over at the Fed. As long as the Fed is willing to monetize debt issued by the other side to hand out the pay offs to rich and poor alike, the markets (for the time being at least) will remain quiet (interest rates will stay low for now) and the debt accumulation will continue (i.e. we will stay on the road to ruin). If the Fed were acting properly the markets would likely have already acted (by raising interest rates) to force the President and Congress to reign in spending and debt accumulation.

    If the House takes (or refuses to take) actions that are seen by the majority as the Cause for serious market turmoil then some seriously righteous anger will fall onto Republican heads and be reflected in the next election – i.e. digging an even deeper hole. We need to think twice and then act because the risk is that we could end up with the other side in control of all three again and this time they might move things even further their way.

    Anyway we need to deal with the situation as it is. Think of the voter as a 400 lb fat person and you know they need to cut back on the ST gratification for the LT benefits. Go ahead and try a real life experiment – find such a person and try to get them to lose 250 lbs. Most people in that situation don’t get there by having too much self control. If you choose force (withholding the food) don’t expect them to return you to office next opportunity.

    On the positive side (yes there is one) please take note that Obama and many of his supporters are very happy and confident – they’re rushing to surround Pusan. They are dropping much of the pretense they’ve used to get elected and are much more open about what they really think and want to do.

    Obama used to say how important keeping debt levels down was, but not any more. He says now that his Obamacare is the solution to the increasing debt (don’t ask).

    He was supportive of the right wars and the American military supremacy but he is clearly on a trajectory to gut our military and its capabilities. I believe we are overextended, but the way he will cut will invite only more trouble and losses (e.g. China will begin skirmishing with Japan over those islands).

    I got the impression at times that Obama and other Democrats were card carrying NRA members, but that pretense is gone with many of their more outspoken people saying we need to get rid of the 2nd Amendment – and they say this without blushing as they defend rights not mentioned anywhere in the Constitution – living document indeed!

    A little softer perhaps, but I’m amazed at the surly public behavior the President exhibits in dealing with his opposition (actually anyone who disagrees with him). We still have four years – this will only get worse.

    There is no easy obvious course of action, but we must choose points of confrontation carefully with some level of confidence that any bad repercussions will be tied to the other side by the 400 lb voter.

  26. neo-neocon Says:

    blert: I don’t know where you’re getting your information about the retired being Democrats, but it certainly hasn’t been true in recent years as far as I can tell. See the age charts here. Romney won amonbg the 60+ crowd 54 to 45. What’s more, that demographic has gone Republican since 2004, according to the chart.

  27. J.J. formerly Jimmy J. Says:

    Otiose, I could not agree more with your comment.

    We have to pick our battles very carefully and not expect to win very many until a majority of the voters begin to get the picture that we see. The one thing we have going for us is that the ballot box (not the cartridge box) is still honored in most places in the country. (Chicago being a notable exception).

  28. J.J. formerly Jimmy J. Says:

    Here’s a quote from Representative James Lankford of Oklahoma who made this week’s Republican remarks carried by Investor’s Business Daily:

    “In fact, every year, the president is required by law to submit a budget proposal to Congress by February 4th. But the Obama administration has already informed Congress that for the fourth time in five years it will be late submitting a budget to your representatives.

    Unfortunately, the president has already missed more budget deadlines than any of his predecessors.

    The House and Senate are also required by law to submit a budget each year…not surprisingly by April 15th, Tax Day. But the Democratic-run Senate hasn’t approved such a resolution for almost four years, 1,361 days to be exact.

    This is not the result of Washington gridlock. Majority Leader Harry Reid said it would be ‘foolish’ for his party in the Senate to produce a budget. We disagree. With more than 16 trillion dollars in debt, we believe it is foolish not to have a budget.”

    The entire remarks are available here:
    http://tinyurl.com/aho6epj

    Unfortunately, this will not be covered in the MSM.

  29. Don Carlos Says:

    “This is not the hill to die on” reminds me of (was it Patton?): The point is not to die for your country, but to make the other SOB die for his country.

  30. Otiose Says:

    JJ, I like the budget idea – it’s a great start with a lot of potential.

    Perhaps the House should refuse to pass any continuing resolutions and respond only to an actual budget proposal from the Senate.

  31. David Aitken Says:

    The R’s should pass for continuing resolutions for the value of the revenues plus the current debt levels and a clause that says something like “because there is not enough money to fund the following programs, they are terminated”. That way 98 percent gets funded and 2 percent gets cut. Then send those to the Senate and see what they do. They don’t have to shut down the whole thing, just tiny pieces of it.

  32. Paulo McManus Says:

    We can learn a lot from this guy.

    http://www.buzzsprout.com/3009/72562-would-you-raise-the-debt-limit

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About Me

Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.
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