Saturday, September 10, 2011

Throw the bums out

The problem with "throw the bums out" is that voters need an alternative. It's not unlike choosing a consumer good. If Brand A stinks, Brand B just got crappy, and there's no Brand C or D, you're kind of stuck. The '06 brand alternative was the Democratic House. The '08 alternative was Obama and an even more Democratic Congress. The '10 alternative was the Tea Party. Who is happy with those alternatives now?

I know the Ron Paul people think that he's the alternative this time, but I'm not buying it for a variety of reasons.

What I hope is that maybe, finally, we'll get some centrists back. Ideally, I'd like: fiscally realistic, wanting to gradually reduce the deficit starting now; socially modern; politically open to bipartisanship. I live in Massachusetts, and I've been happy with Scott Brown, probably for the same reasons the Tea Party consider him a turncoat.

I'd like to see centrists on both the Republican and Democratic sides and especially in the House. The Democrats may think the electorate will turn to them, but they also have a lot to apologize for, the first being their avoidance of the deficit issue.

Does anyone else think this is a possibility? If centrists aren't the alternative this time, I hate to think what-on-earth will be.


Anonymous said...

The Dems did not "ignore the deficit issue" and they need proffer no apology. It may have been a long time ago politically, but, when the Dems took the fiscally responsible step in 1993, they got crushed by the voters in 1994. Nonetheless, the policy stood and the government was well on the way to paying off its debts.

Then Bush and the GOP took over in 2001 and all help broke loose. Fully 90% of the national debt and today's deficit can be traced directly to the GOP and THEIR policies, sometimes with Dem acquiesence, but mostly with political fear tactics of the GOP.

Most Dems want to fix the fiscal mess with increased taxes -- basically returning to fiscally sane rates. But any effort to do so is blocked by Republican, by filibuster if necessary, and always with the threat of political losses if they do. So, why should you blame the Dems for giving the voters what they say they want?

Suppose they again show backbone, raise taxes, and take the political heat. The GOP, with their new political power, will simply reverse it anyway, just as Bush did.

What you fail to grasp, I guess, of the GOP love affair with tax cuts and deficit spending is that they can maintain political advantage no matter what. They get to be heroes for cutting taxes, and heroes for giving programs that aren't paid for. Then they can blame the Dems for the deficits with some high-minded "fiscal conservatism". But they like deficits. Their rich benefactors can then loan the money to the government at a nice real return, rather than paying taxes with a total loss.

You're a smart person, MP, but I'm sometimes surprised at your political naivete. "Centrist" do not exist. You can drive on the left or on the right and be relatively safe. The middle of the road makes you a target from both sides, and nobody's interests -- at least those that will spend to defend those interests -- are in the middle.

The fact is, I'm a centrist, not a radical. But the right has posed such a ridiculous, unsupported philosophy that the entire country has lost sight of the middle. Everyone's force to move right, even into oncoming traffic.

Analogy over.

Verification word: "reflorme". Like "reform me".

ModeratePoli said...

Anon 2:28 - Where was the high-profile Democratic deficit reduction plan this spring? Rand Paul put out a terrible plan, Paul Ryan put out a plan, I even heard about at least one other from a Repub, but none from a well-known Dem. So put out a name, or you have no evidence to support your contention that Dems didn't ignore the deficit issue.

A responsible fiscal plan in 1993 was good, but recent enough to get them off the hook for their part of the responsibility for working on the crisis now. (I don't live on my 1993 paychecks--I have to earn now.)

I understand the political and economic forces that encourage deficit spending, so no need to lecture me. I fault the Republicans for a lot of the deficit, and don't trust me to fix it without a great deal of public pressure.

So glad to hear you're one of the non-existent centrists. I'll keep an eye out for others. I hope they haven't all been run over and run off the road.

I know that our primary system favors the hard-core, but that doesn't make centrism an impossibility. I've put out an idea; now I'll wait to see if reality confirms it or shows me to be wrong.

Anonymous said...

You want a "deficit reduction plan" from the Dems? Perhaps they could have offered one in 2009 when they had control of the game, but that was in the teeth of a near-Depression, when deficit spending is all the economy had. Sure, they could have said to eliminate the Bush-era tax cuts, at least on the wealthy. Most Dems were calling for that. It's a major failure of Obama's administration.

But they didn't push it because it a) wasn't politically viable, and b) would leave Obama and all Dems open to the charge of "tax and spend". I, for one, would have taken the chance and just fought back by discrediting the GOP entirely as having caused the mess and simply trying to keep things bad and transfer the blame.

Politics is about blame, you know. The Dems fought like crazy to lay blame on the GOP for the Bush-era deficits, along with the accounting gimmicks that made it appear not as bad as it really was.

Anyway, the cure is obvious. Grow the economy more, nibble around the edges of entitlements, raise taxes a little, and cut spending on the margins, get out of the wars, chop defense, and give it 20 years. Would that sell? No. Especially the 20 year part.

But the GOP, through every means imaginable, got a 30 year experiment in supply-side economics. We got a vast redistribution of wealth to the top, many wars (and huge increases in "defense" -- really offense -- spending), and now the final result: a prolonged recession.

Let's face it: productive socialist countries with decent allowance for free enterprise do best. That's not the USA, but you can't say or sell that politically. America has to be "exceptional". Talk about hubris.

ModeratePoli said...

@Anon 1:35: Do I want a deficit reduction plan from the Dems? Yes. Does that mean 2009 was the right time for deficit reduction? Absolutely not. I credit the stimulus with stabilizing the economy when it was in a nosedive. Bringing up 2009 is a sign that you don't know where I stand, or it's a straw man argument.

As for the charge that Democrats are always "tax-and-spend." There are reasons it rings true to a lot of people. To prove otherwise, they should actively participate in some cutting, and do it this year, not just sometime in the future.

I think on the whole, Americans would like government to pare back what it does, or at least try and see how well we do with less. (Though we both know that there's a constituency for every dime.)

I've said that I think tax increases should be part of deficit reduction, but just not all of part 1.