Free Markets, Free People
Seen today on an MSN newsfeed:
What does it say? It says the GOP is more screwed than we ever understood.
The “old ladies” are still predominant and now are fighting among themselves and attacking the Tea Party, which should, if you believe GOP propaganda, be a natural ally.
As long as that condition prevails, the GOP will remain a minority party in national politics. And yes, I know, there are some new faces attempting to emerge. But between the left, the media and the old ladies, their chances of emerging anytime soon without having their character assassinated are likely slim and none.
I already mentioned that marriage, kids, and a mortgage are very strong indicators of conservatism. Here’s a straightforward causal explanation: when you’re invested in something, you don’t want it to be taken from you, and you’re skeptical of starry-eyed meddlers doing anything that might threaten it. Probably the best thing done for the cause against gun control was teaching others how to use and maintain a firearm: once people own one, it sharpens the mind to cut through any argument for taking it away.
But a gun is a small investment compared to a committed and intimate relationship, custody of children, and homeownership. A dollar taxed is one that you can’t spend on your family when they want something, a dollar borrowed is one that your kids will pay back, and that meddler on TV is rolling the dice with a major part of your life.
In the case of immigration, Hispanics are already primed to be conservative because they’re already invested. With gay marriage, you have a group trying awfully hard to get more invested.
The conservative argument for embracing gay marriage is that marriage seems to be a fine institution that benefits even people who can’t have children together, and that it may strengthen the institution and the country to expand the institution so that a nontrivial minority of the population is on the inside trying to protect it rather than on the outside where their exclusion leads to thorny political issues of respect and tribalism.
Another conservative argument is that if gay marriage is politically inevitable, conservatives should proactively move through legislation to ensure that it goes smoothly without infringing on other freedoms (like those of association and contract), rather than allow this to play out entirely in the courts or in a referendum. If conservatives keep trying to board the windows, more stuff is going to end up broken than if they just opened the door.
As with immigration and Hispanics, marriage may not be gays’ top priority, but it matters, and the way Republicans approach and discuss the issue can signal that “you’re not one of us,” which is poison for coalition-building.
The flip side of that coin doesn’t have to be pandering; given the consciousness of gay communities about targeted violence and bullying, it’d be awesome if conservatives taught more gays how to use and maintain firearms.
Or, as I recommend in my previous post, how do you make issues such as contraception relevant to the economy and point out its real cost?
Well, don’t forget, at base it is another government mandate. It is government deciding what private employers and insurers will cover and how they’ll cover it. It is obviously not “free” as they claim, but another in a long line of redistribution schemes cloaked in “good intentions” and the “common good”.
It is, in fact, just another straw on the back of the private insurance camel, the addition of which this administration hopes will eventually break its back and allow government to take over that role.
Having directed all insurance companies to provide it at “no cost” to their insured and falsely claiming to the public that they’re getting something for nothing, the administration takes a step toward that goal.
One major feature of the ACA [ObamaCare] is to put so many mandates on private insurance plans (abortion pills and contraception being just a couple of them) that it becomes increasingly difficult for employers to afford private health benefits for their employees.
As more and more employers have to dump private insurance, the idea is that people will demand a government replacement plan. Lurking in the back of the ACA is the public option, which will spring to life once enough people have lost their private insurance. (This can very well happen even if the Supreme Court declares the individual mandate unconstitutional.) Once it is activated, the public option will enroll more and more Americans until it effectively wipes private options off the table.
Socialized health care through the back door.
Precisely. There is more than one way to skin a cat. And that’s what is evident here. This is an alternative cat-skinning method.
The White House argues the new plan will save money for the health system.
"Covering contraception is cost neutral since it saves money by keeping women healthy and preventing spending on other health services," the White House said in a fact sheet.
"For example, there was no increase in premiums when contraception was added to the Federal Employees Health Benefit System and required of non-religious employers in Hawaii. One study found that covering contraception saved employees $97 per year, per employee."
But it isn’t cost neutral at all. And whatever an employee “saves” on the one hand, goes away plus some to cover the expense, because here’s reality:
[I]nsurers say there’s nothing "free" about preventing unwarranted pregnancies. They say the mandate also covers costly surgical sterilization procedures, and that in any case even the pill has up-front costs.
"Saying it’s revenue-neutral doesn’t mean it’s free and that you’re not paying for it," an industry source told The Hill.
Doctors still have to be paid to prescribe the pill, drugmakers and pharmacists have to be paid to provide it – and all that money has to come from insurance premiums, not future hypothetical savings, the source said.
And all of that cost is going to be paid for by those employees who are “saving” money in higher premiums – especially those 50 somethings who are no longer in the child bearing years and ‘saving’ nothing but paying for it anyway. By the way one of the ways to lower insurance cost is to do away with government mandates and let the insured choose what coverage they’d like to pay for. But government will have none of that. That would actually remove straws from the camel’s back.
Of course there are other free market approaches that would most likely be effective if government would allow them:
[P]arents who let their children become obese by feeding them irresponsibly should bear the financial cost of the extra health care that their children will require. This can, again, be done if private insurance companies are allowed to operate on the terms of free markets. Just like a smoker should have to pay a higher health insurance premium than a non-smoker, private insurance companies should be allowed to charge higher premiums of a family that eats themselves obese than of a family that eats responsibly and attends to their own health.
Find obesity to be a national problem? What’s the most effective way to fight it? Mandates and complicated and expensive government programs that only address the problem generally? Or making the obese pay for the consequences of their irresponsible behavior?
I know, how horribly anti-American – making people take responsibility for their actions (something the GOP claims to believe in) and pay their own costs. In the new America, apparently everyone has to pay, no one is held accountable and by the way, it “will be cheaper in the long run” if government does it.
The latter is the eternal promise of nanny government rarely if ever having come to fruition.
But, back to the title and the point – now if some want to add “and it’s against my religion”, fine, wonderful, great. That’s added impetus on top of the economic one to reject Obama’s argument. But it shouldn’t be the primary argument. Instead it should be an argument that voters add themselves among themselves. The broad economic argument about the real cost, not to mention the ideological argument against the growing social welfare state are extraordinarily powerful and appealing. If others want to add their own arguments in addition to this, fine and dandy.
That’s how you do it.
Political parties exist for a reason, and it’s a pretty simple one: to implement the policies their voters prefer. It’s a pretty straightforward deal. The voters pick the candidates that best embody their policy preferences, and the candidate, if elected, implements those policies. It works most of the time.
But not always. Parties sometimes go astray for an election cycle or two. Generally, they are pulled back into line by the voters. But, once in a great while, a political party simply fails. The most recent failure of a major political party in the United States was that of the Whigs in the 1850s, when the issue of slavery so divided the northern and southern factions of the party that its voters were simply unable to continue as a unified political entity. Pro-slavery elements absconded to the Democratic Party, while the anti-slavery elements created the Republican Party.*
It is interesting to note this history when viewed against the current state of the Republican Party. What seems to be developing in the GOP is a similar fissure over the size and scope of government. It seems not to be so much a debate among the rank and file, however, as it is between the grass roots and the party establishment.
When I speak of the GOP establishment, I will define it, for convenience, as those members of the GOP whose incomes and/or professional lives are derived primarily from participation in electoral politics, either directly, as a candidate or staffer, or indirectly through journalism, consulting, policy study, or party activism.
There is an increasing sense that the party establishment is more interested in the process of politics, bipartisanism, and policy than they are about the principles behind the party’s ostensible ideology.
The result seems to be a long succession of candidates for whom the principles of limited government and fiscal responsibility seem to have taken a back seat to "getting things done" and "working with the Democrats" to "solve problems". The perception seems to have taken hold that this has resulted in accepting to some extent the collectivist ideological premises of Democrats, though in a milder form.
Bob Dole, famously criticized as "the tax collector for the welfare state", was generally thought of as a political moderate. George W. Bush’s compassionate conservatism was essentially an embrace of big government for socially conservative ends, rather than limited government, and ultimately, through No Child left behind and Medicare Part D, an embrace of big government for political ends. John McCain was notorious for his "maverick" ways, which came to be generally defined as siding with the Democrats on domestic issues. The GOP seems incapable of producing identifiably limited government conservatives as national candidates.
During this same time, the GOP electorate has become increasingly interested in restraining the size and scope of government, reducing regulations, reducing taxes, and balancing the Federal budget.
Indeed, it’s important to remember that the TEA Party movement began not as a reaction to Mr. Obama’s election, but rather in opposition the Bush Administration’s push for TARP and the bailouts, all of which President Obama embraced and expanded.
This increasing divide between the GOP electorate has led to some embarrassing moments, such as the candidacies of Sharron Angle and Christine O’Donnell in opposition to the GOP establishment, but also some successes, such as the candidacies of Marco Rubio and Allen West. Both, however, often came in opposition to the wishes of the GOP establishment. Some results of this tension are not yet fully known, such as the ultimate outcome of Sarah Palin’s position as a sort of spokesperson and power-broker for a large percentage of the GOP electorate, at the same time her reputation among the GOP is establishment is, shall we say, mixed.
So, we come to the 2012 election, and the primary candidates for the GOP presidential nomination are Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich. Both men are identifiably part of the GOP establishment. Both are flawed candidates from the point of view of limited-government conservatives. Frankly, neither of them would have a chance at winning an election against Mr. Obama in a normal political environment. Their one hope for beating Mr. Obama in the fall is that this election year is decidedly not normal.
From a policy point of view, Mr. Romney simply isn’t a conservative. He is merely somewhat more conservative than the average Democrat, which is to say he is noticeably more liberal than the GOP rank and file. His record gives every indication of willingness to "work with" Democrats, which can be best understood as code for doing nothing that Democrats strongly oppose. In a normal election, this would translate into a deep sense of ennui among GOP voters that would probably doom his chance of victory.
Mr. Gingrich has a more credible argument for supporting and implementing conservative policies than Mr. Romney in many ways. He is also one of the most actively disliked politicians in the United States. He seems utterly incapable of seeing himself in anything other than world-historical terms, and the result is a noticeably overweening ego. He is the modern embodiment of General George McClellan, Abraham Lincoln’s opponent in the 1864 election, who once remarked about himself, "I know that I can save this country, and that I alone can." The instinctive dislike of Mr. Gingrich by the general electorate would normally doom his candidacy in an election as well.
Mr. Romney carries Romneycare like a millstone around his neck, yet does so gladly, and refuses to repudiate it. One of his advisors, former MN senator Norm Coleman, said yesterday that Obamacare would not be repealed. Though the campaign quickly came out in opposition to that position, Mr. Romney’s continued defense of the Massachusetts health care plan remains troubling to GOP voters. He speaks about conservative ideals, but his entire political history is one of compromise with them. This may have been a necessity in a deep blue state like Massachusetts, but it translates poorly to a far more conservative national GOP electorate.
Mr. Gingrich managed to make himself so unpopular as Speaker, even with his fellow Republicans in the House, that he was driven out of Washington like some sort of poison troll. Moreover, as recently as last March on Meet the Press, he supported the individual mandate for health insurance, the key controversy over Obamacare. Mr. Gingrich still defends his support of Medicare Part D. Mr. Gingrich was also one of the primary movers behind the K Street project, which tied the Republican Party deeply with lobbyists, pushed the party into supporting lobbyist pet projects, and ended with the fall of Jack Abramoff, as well as some leading GOP politicians like Tom DeLay. His recent criticisms of Bain Capital, and the concept of private equity firms in general, are also troubling, coming, as they do, from a progressive viewpoint.
In short both men have troubling histories that raise serious questions about their ability to govern as conservatives. I would suggest that if the next president is a Republican, and does not do everything in his power to repeal Obamacare, the Republicans will be finished as a national political party. The same holds true of they fail to restrain federal spending or the growth of the national debt. That would be the short path to the GOP going the way of the Whigs.
Irrespective of presidential politics, however, the GOP is still on the path to decline under their current leadership. If, over the next few election cycles, the GOP establishment cannot bring themselves to actively push candidates of distinctly limited government views, and if they do not actively push for smaller government, less spending, and less debt in Congress, the GOP rank and file will abandon the party and create a replacement for it.
Barry Goldwater’s motto in 1964 was, "A choice, not an echo". Sadly, the GOP establishment seems most comfortable offering a moderately less radical echo of the Democrats. The GOP electorate, however, increasingly wants a choice. A party that is incapable of promoting candidates with a distinctly fiscally conservative, limited government ideology is also incapable of providing that choice.
That is a path to extinction.
*Interestingly, the southern Whigs imparted a more conservative, business-friendly element into southern Democrats, the vestiges of which still remain, and one result of which was the general electoral success by southern Democrats for the Presidency, opposed to Northerners. Of the Democratic presidents in the 20th century, Wilson, Johnson, Carter, and Clinton were all distinctly southerners, while only Roosevelt and Kennedy were northerners. Truman is the odd man out, being from Missouri, though it certainly was at least as much southern as it was northern.
Ok, just being flip, but I’ve never really thought that much of the caucus process and still don’t. All this excitement, work and rhetoric over approximately 225,000 votes. Yes I understand the possibility of winnowing the field (think Newt will finally take the hint?).
So Romney won – by 8 votes out of about 225,000 total. That’s not as surprising to me, frankly, than who came in second. Very disappointing to the Paulbots, I’m sure. But Rick Santorum? Seriously?
And will Huntsman, Bachman, and Perry drop out or hang on through New Hampshire? After all it’s not that long till NH and again, Iowa is a caucus state. I don’t see any of the three doing significantly better there than Iowa, but still they may give it a shot.
Cain was beaten by “no preference”. The only “candidate” missing, as far as I’m concerned, was “none of the above”. My guess is NOTA had a shot at at least 2nd or 3rd, and who knows, with that field, might of pulled out a win.
Perhaps not openly, but certainly more than just by implication.
Here’s the problem as stated in the lede of the NY Times editorial:
Buried in the relatively positive numbers contained in the November jobs report was some very bad news for those who work in the public sector. There were 20,000 government workers laid off last month, by far the largest drop for any sector of the economy, mostly from states, counties and cities.
Oh, my. So, it would seem that city, county and state governments are finally dealing with the reality of their fiscal condition and, unfortunately, doing what must be done to meet the new reality of limited budgets, right? It’s about time. Many of us pointed out that the “stimulus” only put off reality, it didn’t supplant it. At sometime in the near future (like now) those government entities were going to have to deal with the reality of decreased tax revenues and shrunken budgets.
Well, not according to the NY Times which manages to stretch this into something completely different. You see, it is a grand plan being pushed by the racist GOP in case you were wondering:
That’s one reason the black unemployment rate went up last month, to 15.5 percent from 15.1. The effect is severe, destabilizing black neighborhoods and making it harder for young people to replicate their parents’ climb up the economic ladder. “The reliance on these jobs has provided African-Americans a path upward,” said Robert Zieger, an emeritus professor of history at the University of Florida. “But it is also a vulnerability.”
Many Republicans, however, don’t regard government jobs as actual jobs, and are eager to see them disappear. Republican governors around the Midwest have aggressively tried to break the power of public unions while slashing their work forces, and Congressional Republicans have proposed paying for a payroll tax cut by reducing federal employment rolls by 10 percent through attrition. That’s 200,000 jobs, many of which would be filled by blacks and Hispanics and others who tend to vote Democratic, and thus are considered politically superfluous.
Wow … in a world of groundless claims, that’s perhaps one of the most groundless I’ve seen. The case isn’t even cleverly built. I mean how do you like the claim “many Republicans … don’t regard government jobs as actual jobs”. Really? Since when? As I understand “many Republicans” they support a small and limited government but see this one as an outsized behemoth. I agree with them. What they talk about is cutting the size of government. And the intrusiveness of government. That necessarily means cutting jobs. But they don’t support cutting the size of government because it will make those that are “considered politically superfluous” unemployed. That’s just race baiting nonsense. They support it because that’s the conservative ideology based in a foundational concept of this nation.
By the way, unlike the NY Times, most people don’t consider the government to be a “jobs program”. Government is a necessary evil not a method of “getting ahead”. It is there to serve, not provide “a path upward” (although there is nothing wrong with those who’ve been given the opportunity to take advantage of it). It is there to be just as big as it needs to be and not one bit bigger. But who or what color those who work in government are is irrelevant … even to the GOP.
Finally, what you most likely won’t hear is the NY Times whining about are any cuts in defense which will see troop strength radically reduced. Those are good government job cuts too. And many blacks and Hispanics have chosen that field as “a path upward” too. But those are jobs they’re fine with being cut. After all, if they cut more of those they can probably fund the 230,000 new bureaucrats wanted by the EPA to enforce it’s regulations.
How lame is the “racist” argument today? Well, here’s your latest example. I’m sure your no more surprised at the source than I am.
Very interesting survey concerning ObamaCare. Kaiser Family Foundation does a monthly tracking poll. Their October poll yielded some surprise results. Note that this comes as we have been learning more and more about the details of the ObamaCare law:
- After remaining roughly evenly split for most of the last year and a half, this month’s tracking poll found more of the public expressing negative views towards the law. In October, about half (51%) say they have an unfavorable view of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), while 34 percent have a favorable view, a low point in Kaiser polls since the law was passed. While Democrats continue to be substantially more supportive of the law than independents or Republicans, the change in favorability this month was driven by waning enthusiasm for the law among Democrats, among whom the share with a favorable view dropped from nearly two-thirds in September to just over half (52%) in October.
- Americans are more than twice as likely this month to say the law won’t make much difference for them and their families as they are to say they’ll be better off under the law. Forty-four percent say health reform won’t make much difference to them personally, up from 34 percent in September. Meanwhile 18 percent say they and their families will be better off, down from 27 percent last month. (The share who thinks they’ll be worse off personally held steady at roughly three in ten, where it has been since the law passed in 2010.) Here, too, changes in views among Democrats helped shape the overall change.
That’s a bit of a sea-change on the Democratic side.
It’s also significant for another reason. It makes the case for repeal stronger. While Republicans have always been against it, that’s been fairly easy for Democrats to wave off. Indies are a little harder to wave off. But when other Democrats are less supportive of the law, to the point that fewer and fewer have an favorable view of the law, well that makes it increasingly harder for Democrats to justify keeping it.
Something is causing their support to erode and the GOP needs to figure out what it is and use it to make their case.
As election time nears, this is an issue they can use as a secondary one to the economy. It was unpopular when it passed. It has remained mostly unpopular and, with this sort of poll, we see the unpopularity expanding into Democratic ranks. It appears it is something the GOP could get majority consensus on.