Free Markets, Free People

Daily Archives: September 8, 2010


A phone call to Barbara Lisa Murkowski

“Hello, Barbara Lisa Murkowski here.”

“Yo, Babs. I hear you lookin for some DC smack.”

“What? How did you get this number?”

“Oh, a friend of yours gave it to me. He says you ain’t feelin too good. Had your usual fix taken away a couple of weeks ago. Got the monkey on your back, he says.”

“Hey, I’m fine. I’m just trying to find a way to serve the people of Alaska through one more term.”

“Heh, heh. Sure. Look, you want to hear what I got or not?”

“Well, it won’t hurt to listen, I suppose.”

“Well, the LPers are open to reason. I think I can get you a ballot spot.”

“Those guys? First, they don’t seem to want to talk to me. Second, it’s a long shot that I can win by running under their ticket.”

“Well, sure, it ain’t as high quality as what you’re used to. But it’ll keep the withdrawal pangs away for a few months. I bet right now you’re feelin like that’s enough. Eh?”

“Look, I can stand it if I have too. I have dignity, you know. I could always take a job as a lobbyist.”

“Sure you can, sure you can. I’m just sayin, I think I can arrange a deal to get you that fix, uh, I mean nomination. I mean, I’d hate to see you walkin K Street.”

“How much will it cost me?”

“No more than you got. Hey, I want to help. I hate to see a lady suffer. And from what I hear, you got the DC habit pretty bad.”

“Well, it would certainly be hard to turn my back on the people of Alaska. I’ve done so much to bring home the bacon for them. It just feels so good to get the goodies for them, you know?”

“Sure, sure, you and me in the same business, giving people stuff that makes em feel good.”

“Well, seeing as how we’re both so public-spirited, I think we can definitely work together.”


Obama puts politics above the economy

From The New York Times:

President Obama on Wednesday will make clear that he opposes any compromise that would extend the Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthy beyond this year, officials said, adding a populist twist to an election-season economic package that is otherwise designed to entice support from big businesses and their Republican allies.

Mr. Obama’s opposition to allowing the high-end tax cuts to remain in place for even another year or two would be the signal many Congressional Democrats have been awaiting as they prepare for a showdown with Republicans on the issue and ends speculation that the White House might be open to an extension. Democrats say only the president can rally wavering lawmakers who, amid the party’s weakened poll numbers, feel increasingly vulnerable to Republican attacks if they let the top rates lapse at the end of this year as scheduled.

But the problem is that raising taxes in a recession is considered by all objective thinkers to be folly.  In fact, the President said so himself as I reminded you recently:

Normally you don’t raise taxes in a recession, which is why we haven’t and why we’ve instead cut taxes. So I guess what I’d say to Scott is—his economics are right. You don’t raise taxes in a recession. We haven’t raised taxes in a recession.”

But they are going to raise them in a recession now.  “Scott”, by the way, was a person who submitted a question at an Obama townhall through MSNBC’s Chuck Todd.  Obama admitted that it was the wrong thing to do in a recession.  And folks, we’re still in a recessionary period whether or not the spin artists with the administration prefer “recovery summer” (another flop) or not.

The NYT goes on:

It is not clear that Mr. Obama can prevail given his own diminished popularity, the tepid economic recovery and the divisions within his party. But by proposing to extend the rates for the 98 percent of households with income below $250,000 for couples and $200,000 for individuals — and insisting that federal income tax rates in 2011 go back to their pre-2001 levels for income above those cutoffs — he intends to cast the issue as a choice between supporting the middle class or giving breaks to the wealthy.

Of course, he’s presenting a false choice.  There’s a third choice – keep the tax cuts for all and cut spending.  But, you can’t stir up class warfare and spend more money unless you demonize the rich and claim you’ll be spending their money for the benefit of the “middle class”.

Any American that falls for the sort of populist class envy nonsense is most likely fine with the government we have and any silver pieces they can siphon off as a result.

That said, the NYT’s first sentence in that paragraph says a lot.  Does Obama have the heft to carry this off.  We all know the GOP will be the whipping boy for any failure, but unless every Democrat in both chambers of Congress stand up and vote for it, it will be a difficult thing to sell to a skeptical electorate who’ve heard all this nonsense before.

Politically, however, the president is, in effect, daring Republicans to oppose the plan, in that way proving Democrats’ contention that they will block even their own ideas to deny Mr. Obama any victories. And by proposing business tax breaks that, according to nonpartisan analyses, would do more to stimulate the economy than extending the Bush tax rates for the wealthy, Mr. Obama hopes to buttress Democrats’ opposition to extending those rates.

Let him dare the Republicans.  If they’re smart (and that’s always debatable) they’ll use the President’s own words against him.  That would be their most effective tool.  And that would also put Democrats in marginal districts on notice that if they vote not to extend the cuts, they’re doing what their President once admitted was a terrible  idea in bad economic times.  And, they should understand, they can count on hearing that repeated in ads in their districts along with how they voted.

~McQ


A pox on both parties

Gallup’s latest poll shows that at least in the universe of those polled, neither the GOP or the Democratic party are held in very high esteem.  It’s something that I and Billy Hollis have been trying to get across for some time. 

What you’re seeing out there among the teeming masses isn’t necessarily a movement (I’m talking the Tea Party, etc) that wants to put the GOP in power.  It is a movement that is sick and tired of the way the country has been run and at the moment Republicans are considered to be slightly better because of their fiscal principles.

But, as Lisa Murkowski can tell you, not even all of them are acceptable.

I’m not speaking for the Tea Party, I’m not sure anyone can, but it appears to me to be mostly driven by a desire for fiscal conservatism and a return to Constitutional/limited government.  I don’t think it is much more complex than that, although with any mass movement you’ll see other minor movements with different causes try to attach themselves and claim to be mainstream in that movement.

But for the most part fiscal conservatism and limited government best characterize the Tea Party in my eyes.  And I’ve spoken frequently about how the “wrong track” poll – i.e. the fact that a huge majority of Americans, in the 60 percentile range, think the country is on the wrong track and have thought so for at least the last two administrations – speaks to the fact that they’re not happy with either party.

Gallup’s poll simply validates that point:

Americans’ frustration with Congress is directed at both sides of the aisle — with job approval ratings of 33% for the Democrats in Congress and 32% for the Republicans in Congress.

Interestingly those ratings are considerably higher than Congress’s approval rating (somewhere down around 11%) which I attribute to this specific Congress.   Americans don’t like the way Congress as a whole this session has done business and blame the Democrats for that, since they’re the majority party.  But in general, and for some time, they’ve not at all happy with the two parties (in fact, the cited poll numbers probably reflect approval by mostly partisan members of each party).

So here we are on the eve of  a mid-term with the GOP poised to make a return to power, at least in the House, and it is clear that they are nothing more than a “lesser of two evils” pick because, unfortunately, there are only two viable parties.

That is part of the frustration Americans are going through right now.  Movements like the Tea Party are trying to shape that a bit with its support of candidates that are much closer to the ideal they prefer.  And they’re having some success.

Of course the point is that the GOP shouldn’t think that there’s been a sudden mass acceptance of their brand or that they suddenly have some sort of mandate (the mistake the Democrats made and the result of that will be seen this November).  Instead they should understand that they’re grudgingly being given another chance to prove themselves, that the people that are supporting them have been very clear what they want, and if they don’t perform, they now have a movement that can find  – and back – someone who will. 

That’s quite a change from previous years, and who knows, if the Tea Party survives in some manner or form, it might be something that can indeed help us back along the road to fiscal conservancy and limited government.

~McQ