Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Politics

Cards On The Table

There has been a lot of comment about the fact that, at the last debate, none of the Republican presidential candidates raised their hands when asked if they would take a deficit reduction deal that was 10 to 1 spending cuts to tax increases.  I think that the best, the very best, budget deal that conservatives can get through our political process is some favorable combination of the Simpson-Bowles Plan on taxes and discretionary spending and the Rivlin-Domenici Plan on health care policy.  This will mean, even in a transformed entitlement system, that we will be paying more for Medicare than is budgeted in the revenue neutral Ryan Path to Prosperity.  That means the government will need more money.  That can be gotten with a tax code that is more pro-growth than the one we have. 

There is a strong case to be made that conservatives should emphasize that entitlement reform and public sector consolidation should be looked at before tax increases, but holding out for not even one more penny of tax money is a good way to make sure that the budget ends up looking more like how Nancy Pelosi wants it than how Paul Ryan wants it.  That doesn't mean I want the Republican presidential candidates to come out for tax increases, but there is something unreal about our discussions of crafting a sustainable budget.  It is of course even worse with President Obama, who has not come close to proposing a plan that would produce a sustainable budget..  There might even be some upside to leveling with the public.

Categories > Politics

Discussions - 4 Comments

You know, not ever analogy works, and I'm not hard over on any one principle or idea or tactic in this debate, but here is what I always think when I read things such as "but holding out for not even one more penny of tax money is a good way to make sure that the budget ends up looking more like how Nancy Pelosi wants it than how Paul Ryan wants it."---that in 1940, France cut a deal while Britain did not, and in *1940* it was hard to say France was wrong and Britain right. On a certain level.

So,I say nuts to Nancy Pelosi and the rest of them. They are either truly oblivious to the issues or their long-term plan is, at some point in time, to just get back to confiscatory tax rates as well as repudiate the national debt (on the same principles as the bankruptcy rules were changed in the auto bailouts). I have to conclude that they have no intention of changing on their own, and that the GOP (absent the Tea Party) will never be able to change things fast enough themselves--because they always have this delusion that if they play it safe and win an overall majority, then somehow all will be put right. Except that once they have the majority, they have shown that they will continue to play it safe--because they never have enough wind at their backs.

The only way to change the system is to hold as firm as one can as long as one can--and knowing when that "can" becomes "can't", well before the foe does. And regarding that "can to can't" point--to do what is necessary, vis a vis talking to the people, to place your "can't" a lot more downfield than the other guy's.

You're right, not every analogy works. Taking into account that math and policy problems inherent in the Ryan budget as described by Josh Barro does not make one Pierre Laval, and pretending they do not exist sure doesn't make you Churchill.

Instituting and consolidating the reforms we need from the right-of--center rather than the left will mean winning over and holding marginal voters for several elections. I see no reason that these voters would prefer that Medicare spending be cut at the levels of Ryan's PTP (and the resulting service cuts) rather than have some deductions scaled down.

"So,I say nuts to Nancy Pelosi and the rest of them"

A too rigid attitude toward policy reform is a pretty good way to make sure you end up living in the world they make.

"And regarding that "can to can't" point--to do what is necessary, vis a vis talking to the people, to place your "can't" a lot more downfield than the other guy's."

I'm not talking about what will keep up your morale or what some negotiating position should be (and some negotiating positions are self-marginalizing - an obvious point since otherwise Republicans would be starting out at Murray Rothbard's policy preferences.) I'm talking about what policies can win sufficient support over time. Teaching people to ignore political reality (or pretending that the marginal voter will magically learn to like any number of Medicare cuts over even one more penny of tax increases - even one's in an overall pro-growth tax reform package) is, at the margin, unhelpful.

"I'm talking about what policies can win sufficient support over time. "

And I'm talking about policies that will actually solve real problems in the real world. The two might not be compatible for 2012. Maybe, maybe not. I don't know. I do know that teaching people to ignore reality is, at the margin, unhelpful--even if it wins elections. Because reality will knock on the door, eventually.

My view is the same as always--decide on what is needed and is *eventually* possible with the American people, push for as much as you can, take a defeat on the subject if needed so as to mark out both yourself and the opposition, and regroup as necessary. It's not a two year contest, its a longer struggle. Act like it. If disaster is going to result unless big change happens--and I think that very likely--then let Nancy Pelosi, et al do what damage they can with transitory majorities in "the world they make" *if* it allows the ultimate victory to be won. Focus on the one big thing--not what gets immediate results.

So no, I'm not going to coddle the marginal voter, neither now or ever. They're better than that.

"And I'm talking about policies that will actually solve real problems in the real world." Me too. I see no reason to believe that Medicare structured and funded more like Rivlin-Domenici rather than the Ryan PTP would fail as policy in real world where the Ryan plan would succeed or that the difference is such that one should prefer defeat on Ryan terms rather the victory on Rivlin-Domenici terms. And we are running out of time. And it is easier (both as politics and as policy) to cut Medicare through an IPAD-like procedure than through market-oriented reforms.

"then let Nancy Pelosi, et al do what damage they can with transitory majorities in "the world they make" *if* it allows the ultimate victory to be won. Focus on the one big thing--not what gets immediate results."

You might find that world lasts longer than you might like.

Leave a Comment

* denotes a required field
 

No TrackBacks
TrackBack URL: http://nlt.ashbrook.org/movabletype/mt-tb.cgi/16941