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Sometimes you just can't reach people

Had a moderately frustrating (and thankfully brief) discussion with a friend this weekend about the whole debt limit thing. He didn't get the hardline insistence by the Democrats on not cutting spending, and really didn't get the GOP's stubborn refusal to even consider raising taxes. At all. He seemed convinced that at some point Boehner was going to cut a deal, and was troubled by my insistence that if that happened, his head would be on a spike in less than a day.

I get where he's coming from; he gets all or most of his news from the WaPo and other mainstream media sources, and doesn't have any sense of the sullen rage that lies at the root of the TEA Party's obdurate refusal to compromise with Obama. Nobody in the GOP base trusts Obama or the Democrats not to screw us on a taxes-for-cuts swap, quite aside from the fact that accepting this swap would feed the persistent meme that there's no difference between the two political parties. Those of us who are old enough remember how the Democrats screwed Reagan and Bush on this kind of swap in the 1980s, and we're not about to let the young folks forget about that. Also, the economy is in horrible shape, and if we're going to learn anything from history, we ought to learn that jacking up taxes at a time like this DOES NOT WORK. It didn't work for Hoover, it didn't work for Carter, and it's not going to work for Obama. They had their chance to do the Keynesian stimulus already, and despite the ravings of partisan fuggheads like Paul Krugman, throwing more money down that particular rathole will not work. That assumes the Red Chinese or somebody else would be dumb enough to loan us the money by buying T-bills, which they won't; they're already stepping away from the table and selling the T-bills they do hold. Because the PRC nomenklatura have no faith that Obama, Geithner and Bernanke are going to do the right thing, even assuming they know what the right thing is.

I don't claim to have any great feel for the political pulse, but I do have a fairly good idea what the conservative commentariat thinks, and they have the tar & feathers ready for John Boehner or any other RINO who wants to jack up taxes. I also have a sense for that the Left thinks, since I do have friends on the other side of the political fence, and they're dead set against any cuts to the entitlements that are such a big part of the problem. So there really isn't any middle ground any more. There's no place to compromise, because the economy has made it impossible to raise taxes even as a large part of the Democratic Party base absolutely refuses to consider making cuts to any programs whatsoever. Well, maybe defense; they're usually okay with cuts to DoD.

The moderates no longer exist in any significant numbers in either party, and it seems clear to me that until the GOP takes control of the Senate and White House next year, there won't be any progress. In the unlikely case that the Democrats manage to retake the House, well, we're going to be in the same boat as the PIIGS*. Except there's nobody big enough to bail us out.
The time when both parties to come to some compromise where taxes could be raised without crippling the economy and programs could be cut existed for a very brief time in W's first term, but since then, the RINOs have mostly been purged from the GOP and the Blue Dog Democrats have been chained up in the doghouse for the duration.

It's hard to make someone understand this when they don't know what I know, though.


*Portugal, Italy, Ireland, Greece and Spain

Comments

( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
harvey_rrit
Jul. 11th, 2011 07:21 pm (UTC)
"...It's hard to make someone understand this when they don't know what I know..."

Trying to hold a sensible conversation with someone and suddenly realizing that he has Been Taught everything (instead of getting out there and learning stuff himself, just because it's there) can be enough to make you start biting your shield sometimes.

I'm certain that between us you and I could show Sven and Sven's Dad a thing or two.
wombat_socho
Jul. 11th, 2011 11:13 pm (UTC)
Yes, exactly. The aggravating thing is that my friend isn't stupid. Far from it. He's an experienced troubleshooter who has pinch-hit as CFO for a number of companies, but he's never been involved in politics.
(Deleted comment)
wombat_socho
Jul. 12th, 2011 01:29 pm (UTC)
Well, they're being every bit as serious as the Administration, for what that's worth. I personally think that Eric Cantor and the TEA Party faction of the GOP have become convinced that the Democrats are more interested in demagoguing the entitlements issue than they are in doing any kind of structural reform, and because of that, they're just running the nickel defense, playing out the clock.

I agree that the refusal to raise taxes is not enough in and of itself; it is in fact tied up with the regulatory uncertainty, and the blatant crony capitalism that the Democrats have been indulging in. This is why I disagree with you when you treat "business" as a monolithic interest group. Clearly, since 2006, there have been businesses favored by the Federal government (entertainment, GM, and GE, for example) and others that have been disfavored. In the past, a lot of businessmen were willing to pay protection money to Democratic politicians, but this time around that's changed. I think Obama and the Democrats will still get a lot of money from Hollywood and a lot of free agitprop from the NY/DC/LA media, but the boys on Wall Street are quietly closing their checkbooks and not returning calls; the men and women on Main Street did that years ago.
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )

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