Free Markets, Free People

Byron York


Romney, Perry, front-runners, Social Security and “Ponzi Schemes”

So, Tim Pawlenty endorses Mitt Romney.  But Republican voters think Rick Perry probably has the best chance of defeating Barack Obama.  Byron York gives us the lowdown:

In a new CNN poll that finds Perry at the front of the Republican pack, the Texas governor’s lead among GOP voters age 65 and older is actually bigger than his lead among younger voters. Fifty-two percent of respondents over 65 say Perry is their choice for president, versus just 21 percent who choose Romney.  In the overall numbers, Perry leads Romney 32 percent to 21 percent, with Ron Paul following at 13 percent, Bachmann and Gingrich at seven percent each, Herman Cain at six percent, and Jon Huntsman and Rick Santorum at two percent each.

Republican voters over 65 also believe Perry has the best chance of defeating President Obama in next year’s general election.  Perry leads Romney 58 percent to 22 percent among older voters on that question.

Of course, Republican votes over 65 are a key demographic which one might believe would be most put off by Perry’s “Ponzi scheme” meme concerning Social Security, right?  But, as York points out, that doesn’t seem to be the case:

Breaking down the age results in different categories, Perry leads Romney by 24 percent to 19 percent among GOP voters under 50.  Among GOP voters 50 and older, Perry leads Romney by 41 percent to 22 percent.

The results seem likely to encourage Perry to stick with his "Ponzi scheme" critique of Social Security.  At the same time, though, Perry might choose to gradually walk away from those incendiary words while leaving his essential assessment of Social Security unchanged.  In a new op-ed in USA Today, for example, Perry writes that "Americans deserve a frank and honest discussion of the dire financial challenges facing" Social Security.  But he doesn’t use the words "Ponzi scheme."  As for the critics, especially Romney, the results could cut two ways.  They might make Romney and others dial back the criticism a bit, on the grounds that it’s not working among the voters most personally interested in Social Security.  Or the results might actually encourage the critics to attack Perry more, on the grounds that voters don’t know enough about the "Ponzi scheme" issue and might change their opinion of Perry if they did.  The poll results published by CNN poll do not cover the Social Security issue specifically.

Good analysis.  And that sets up tonight’s debate in Tampa.  Will Rick Perry walk away from the “Ponzi scheme” meme and transition to a more general “frank and honest” discussion?  Apparently it resonated, which means that voters understand the intent of Perry’s words – that is to highlight the dire trouble Social Security is in.

Obviously what his opponents will do is try to frame that as extremely as possible – Perry wants to do away with Social Security.  Democrats aren’t the only ones who play that sort of game.  And that’s why York holds out the possibility, given the USA Today piece, that Perry is going to walk away from the description but still pursue the point.

The first place we’ll get to see if that’s true or not is in tonight’s debate as it is sure to be a major subject:

The controversy is sure to erupt at tonight’s Republican debate in Tampa.  In Florida over the weekend, the Romney campaign distributed a flier hitting Perry hard on Social Security, saying the Texas governor is "reckless and wrong on Social Security."  The headline of the flier is "Two candidates: Only one will protect what’s important to you," and the last line of the flier is "Rick Perry: How can we trust anyone who wants to kill Social Security?"  After attacks like that, Perry will undoubtedly be in the mood to hit back on the debate stage.

Of course, I’ve always said that if I was ever a Republican candidate facing Mitt Romney, I’d answer every question he ever ask of me with a one word answer.

“Romneycare”.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO


4 Trillion in debt added under Obama’s term

Deficit spending has risen faster under Barack Obama than any other president in history.  That’s not to say other presidents weren’t in the red during their administrations, but in the case of Obama, its over 4 trillion dollars in less than a single term

The latest posting by the Treasury Department shows the national debt has now increased $4 trillion on President Obama’s watch.

The debt was $10.626 trillion on the day Mr. Obama took office. The latest calculation from Treasury shows the debt has now hit $14.639 trillion.

It’s the most rapid increase in the debt under any U.S. president.

The national debt increased $4.9 trillion during the eight-year presidency of George W. Bush. The debt now is rising at a pace to surpass that amount during Mr. Obama’s four-year term.

The immediate problem isn’t about taxes or revenues, “it’s the spending, stupid!”  Byron York echoes the point:

It’s conventional wisdom in Washington to blame the federal government’s dire financial outlook on runaway entitlement spending. Unless we rein in Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, the conventional wisdom goes, the federal government is headed for disaster.

That’s true in the long run. But what is causing massive deficits now? . . . The bottom line is that with baby boomers aging, entitlements will one day be a major budget problem. But today’s deficit crisis is not one of entitlements. It was created by out-of-control spending on everything other than entitlements. The recent debt-ceiling agreement is supposed to put the brakes on that kind of spending, but leaders have so far been maddeningly vague on how they’ll do it.

Precisely.  When treating a badly wounded person the immediate need is to stop the bleeding, not treat them for heart disease.  Once the bleeding is stopped, then you can worry about their heart and future treatments.

The spending has to stop.   And President Obama is not the man to do that.  He blames his spending on everyone but himself which indicates to many that he has no intention of slowing it down:

Mr. Obama blames policies inherited from his predecessor’s administration for the soaring debt. He singles out:

  • "two wars we didn’t pay for"
  • "a prescription drug program for seniors…we didn’t pay for."
  • "tax cuts in 2001 and 2003 that were not paid for."

While there is some truth to what he points too, the last is nonsense unless you believe the government has first claim to your earnings.  Those aren’t tax cuts, they’re tax rates.  They’ve been in place for almost 10 years for the first and eight for the second.  Tax rates are changed all the time, but until recently they’ve never been referred too as “tax cuts … that were not paid for”.  Also not mentioned in Mr. Obama’s litany is TARP – something he voted for – and the trillion dollar stimulus bill, not to mention the new health care law which analysis now shows bends the cost curve up.

Just as this economy is all his, so is the 4 trillion in borrowed money he’s spent during his term to little or no effect during his term.  And the budget he submitted to Congress this year, the budget that was rejected 97-0, indicated he still doesn’t understand the spending has to stop.

Our debt now stands at 97.6% of our GDP.  That’s default territory.  Yet there are those who have attacked Standard and Poors for downgrading their rating to reflect that reality.   This is serious business that effects or will effect everyone if it isn’t stopped.   GOP candidates need to concentrate on the immediate problem and announce and run on their plan to stop the bleeding.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO


The elitists among us are found in progressive ranks

It’s simply that they  think they’re head and shoulder’s smarter than the average voter and – the “and” is critical – know what is best for them.  Now certainly there are likely those on the right that feel that way too, but I’m talking about a whole movement on the left.  Progressives are of the opinion, especially given their dedication to nanny-state measures, that we simply are unable to take care of ourselves.  That belief, driven by their activism translates into a further belief of inferior intellect among the masses.  Think about it – if you truly believe that most everyone else can’t make the proper decisions for themselves and it takes the wise progressive and a benevolent government to guide them through their life and ensure they’re looked after, are you going to actually try to argue that those people are as bright as you are?

Of course not.  In fact, you may consider them to be stupid.  And, if you’re really arrogant, you might let the mask slip and blurt it out every now and then as did University of Wisconsin political scientist Charles Franklin in an interview about the midterm election results (Byron York reports):

Franklin was responding to a question from Bill Lueders, news editor of Isthmus, a weekly alternative newspaper in Madison, Wisconsin.  In an account published Thursday (H/T Ann Althouse), Lueders says he asked Franklin why "the public seemed to vote against its own interests and stated desires, for instance by electing candidates who’ll drive up the deficit with fiscally reckless giveaways to the rich."

"Franklin, perhaps a bit too candidly, conceded the point," Lueders writes.  "’I'm not endorsing the American voter,’ he answered. ‘They’re pretty damn stupid.’"

Lueders writes that he responded, "Thank you, professor.  That’s the answer I was looking for."  The rest of Lueders’ account explains that smart voters support things like high-speed rail and higher taxes for the rich, while dumb voters support "an obvious phony like [Republican senator-elect] Ron Johnson over Russ Feingold."

It’s instructive to note that Franklin blurted out the truth as he conceived it and Lueders got an apparent affirmation of his belief on the matter.  And note how Franklin has also adopted the subtle but evident principle that the money of the rich doesn’t really belong to them.  Words like “giveaways” give the clue.

Shocking?  Hardly.  In fact pretty main-stream for progressives.  Think back about how the progressives among us tried to label the Tea Party.  In fact, that’s still going on as witnessed in this exchange between progressive Matt Taibbi of Rolling Stone and David Gergen and Peter Hart in the wake of the midterm election results:

Taibbi: To me, the main thing about the Tea Party is that they’re just crazy. If somebody is able to bridge the gap with those voters, it seems to me they will have to be a little bit crazy too. That’s part of the Tea Party’s litmus test: "How far will you go?"

Gergen: I flatly reject the idea that Tea Partiers are crazy. They had some eccentric candidates, there’s no question about that. But I think they represent a broad swath of the American electorate that elites dismiss to their peril.

Hart: I agree with David. When two out of five people who voted last night say they consider themselves supporters of the Tea Party, we make a huge mistake to suggest that they are some sort of small fringe group and do not represent anybody else.

Taibbi: I’m not saying that they’re small or a fringe group.

Gergen: You just think they’re all crazy.

Taibbi: I do.

Gergen: So you’re arguing, Matt, that 40 percent of those who voted last night are crazy?

Taibbi: I interview these people. They’re not basing their positions on the facts — they’re completely uninterested in the facts. They’re voting completely on what they see and hear on Fox News and afternoon talk radio, and that’s enough for them.

Gergen: The great unwashed are uneducated, so therefore their views are really beneath serious conversation?

Taibbi: I’m not saying they’re beneath serious conversation. I’m saying that these people vote without acting on the evidence.

Gergen: I find it stunning that the conversation has taken this turn. I disagree with the Tea Party on a number of issues, but it misreads who they are to dismiss them as some kind of uneducated know-nothings who have somehow seized power in the American electorate. It is elitist to its core. We would all be better off if we spent more time listening to each other rather than simply writing them off.

Booman at the BooMan Tribune says of the exchange:

What’s ironic is that Gergen is dismissing the Tea Partiers by taking them seriously. People like Matt Taibbi take them much more seriously, as they should, but they don’t ascribe any merit to their views. They take them seriously because they are .going to do grave damage to the nation.

I have no idea what he means by his first sentence, however it is irrelevant whether or not Matt Taibbi ascribes any “merit” their views, their views are the views, as David Gergen points out, of “40% of those who voted”. So you can throw all the pissy little elitist hissy fits you want, call Tea Partiers every name in the book, but that fact remains true and is obviously incredibly relevant to the electoral future.  And the progressive answer to that truth isn’t to attempt to engage and persuade, it’s to call them crazy and dismiss them.

That is arrogance.  That is elitism.  It’s also not very smart.  But, at the moment, that is the progressive movement in a nutshell.  Naturally they’re unable to see that, as demonstrated by Booman as he concludes his post (and joins the new progressive narrative I pointed too the other day):

The GOP may not want to help the economy while a Democrat is in the White House, but they don’t know how to help the economy regardless. We saw this during Bush’s two terms in office. And when Bush finally faced reality and took the obvious steps to save the economy, the Republicans went Full Metal Teabagger in response.

David Gergen thinks it is elitist to dismiss the threat presented by this rise in Know-Nothing foolish ideology. What he forgets is that our government will no longer work starting in January. If elites like Gergen are good for anything, they should be good at protecting our institutions. They didn’t. And now we have a really big problem.

Those two paragraphs are a case study in progressive elitism and filled with enough logical fallacies for a semester’s worth of work in a logic class, not to mention classic projection.  But you have to hope this incredible cluelessness continues if you’re at all interested in returning fiscal sanity to this country.  As long as the Taibbis, Boomans, Franklins and Lueders of the progressive world believe that everyone who votes for the other side is “crazy” and/or “stupid”, they’ll make no attempt to engage and persuade.   And that leaves a pretty open field for their opposition.

You’d think, as smart as they claim to be, they’d have picked up on how, well, stupid that approach is in electoral politics.  They used that approach frequently and vocally prior to the midterms and 60 seats plus went to the opposition.  A smart person would analyze that outcome and modify their approach.  But not progressives.  Those smart guys are doubling down instead.

But remember you’re the dumb one.

~McQ

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