National View: Fiscal Cliff Isn’t All That Awaits Us

Fiscal-Cliff-2While the city of Davis has made great progress in shoring up their fiscal standing in the last few weeks, the same cannot be said at the national level.  The media deserves a lot of blame for overhyping the “fiscal cliff” into some sort of crisis that would doom the nation, if unresolved, by the end of the year.

The truth is that, if the tax cuts expire, we do not suddenly fall into the ocean.  In fact, it is worth noting we had some of the longest peace time economic expansion with those tax rates in place.  It is far from the ideal time to raise taxes, but if that’s where we head, the Republicans will largely have only themselves to blame for it.

The fact is that Speaker of the House John Boehner proposed an option that was never viable, that in the end not only could he never have sold to Democrats, he could not even sell it to his own party.

That the vaunted Plan B was dead before arrival was not the surprise nor the shock, the surprise and the shock is that, by the end of the day, Speaker Boehner could not blame the Democrats for failing to act on the legislation.

“The House did not take up the tax measure today because it did not have sufficient support from our members to pass,” Mr. Boehner said in a statement.

He then put the onus on President Obama and Senate Leader Harry Reid.

He said, “Now it is up to the President to work with Senator Reid on legislation to avert the fiscal cliff.”

The problem is that, if Speaker Boehner could not deliver the votes in the House, how is the President expected to?

Some of my conservative friends have told me they are forced to agree.  Others suggested that President Obama has shown his lack of leadership again.  Where is his plan that can pass the House and Senate?

The problem is, how does one reasonably expect the President to achieve what the Speaker could not?  Do they expect that Democrats will move to the right of the Speaker’s proposal – one that they could never have supported to begin with?

Moreover, frankly, they do not have to.  Public opinion polls show that the country supports the President on the issue of raising taxes on those over $250,000.  It shows the President at his highest approval ratings since the death of Bin Laden.

The Speaker countered the President’s proposal for raising the taxes on those with incomes over $250,000 with a plan that would have allowed income tax rates to rise on incomes over $1 million.  That proposal was not acceptable to the White House nor legislative Democrats, and yet a core of House Republicans refused to support even that proposal.

Public opinion polls have consistently indicated that the voters blame Republicans for a failure to reach a deficit deal.  That was before this latest debacle, that paints the Republicans into a corner that they might not be able to emerge from.

Now Democrats question Speaker Boehner’s ability to deliver any agreement.

“I think this demonstrates that Speaker Boehner has a real challenge,” said Representative Steny H. Hoyer of Maryland, the No. 2 House Democrat. “He hasn’t been able to cut any deal, make any agreement that’s balanced. Even if it’s his own compromise.”

As the New York Times explains this morning, “The point of the Boehner effort was to secure passage of a Republican plan, then demand that the President and the Senate take up that measure and pass it, putting off the major fights until early next year when Republicans would conceivably have more leverage because of the need to increase the federal debt limit. It would also allow Republicans to claim it was Democrats who had caused taxes to rise after the first of the year, had no agreement been reached.”

The Times noted, “That strategy lay in tatters after the Republican implosion…  Opponents said they were not about to bend their uncompromising principles on taxes just because Mr. Boehner asked.”

The question now is whether this is the end of Speaker Boehner.  We know in a parliamentary system this failure would result in a no confidence vote.  The vote is next month for the speaker leadership and it seems that the Speaker has lost the ability to lead his own troops.

Unfortunately, the failure to garner enough Republicans might signal that no deal is possible.  However, the Speaker has one other option, and that is to cut a deal with the White House that can gain enough House Republican votes to pass it through the House and even Senate Republican votes to get it through the Senate.

It’s a tough task and it might cost the Speaker his job.  Then again, his job is in peril as it is.  Perhaps saving the country is more important.  What is clear is that the only way to avert the crisis is to find a position that can attract both Democrats and the few pragmatic or moderate Republicans remaining.

—David M. Greenwald reporting

About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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42 thoughts on “National View: Fiscal Cliff Isn’t All That Awaits Us”

  1. rusty49

    Typical, we all knew the press would lay all the blame on the GOP. How come it’s always the GOP who gets blamed for not compromising? Little has come out of OweBlamer and Reid in the way of compromise and they both said they wouldn’t go for the latest Plan B even if it had passed the House. It’s all politics and right now and OweBlamer is better at that game but he is just as much the blame as any other party in this dispute. That being said I hope Boehner loses his Speakership as he seems not able to play the game with the Democrat cons.

  2. rusty49

    “The media deserve a lot of blame for overhyping the “fiscal cliff” into some sort of crisis that would doom the nation if unresolved by the end of the year.
    The truth is that if the tax cuts expire, we do not suddenly fall into the ocean. In fact, it is worth noting we had some of the longest peace time economic expansion with those tax rates in place.”

    Then you write:
    “It’s a tough task and it might cost the Speaker his job. Then again, his job is in peril as it is. Perhaps saving the country is more important. What is clear is that the only way to avert the crisis is to find a position that can attract both Democrats and the few pragmatic or moderate Republicans remaining.”

    So which is it, the so-called great Clinton tax era or a crisis and about saving the country? One thing that always gets lost by the left when talking about the great Clinton years was he had the luck of the Internet boom going for him. I wonder if Bill is staying home with Hillary nursing and comforting her through her concussion? LOL

  3. David M. Greenwald

    You’re conflating two different points here. The first is the literal impact of the tax increases. The second is his belief as to what would happen if the tax increases kick in. Subtle differences. He believes that the country faces peril, I’m not sure I do.

  4. medwoman

    [quote]I wonder if Bill is staying home with Hillary nursing and comforting her through her concussion? LOL[/quote]

    This comment is as irrelevant as it is despicable, ranking right up their with MH’s comment about sleeping with the
    Woodland elected officials.

  5. rusty49

    “Rusty: How do you not blame the GOP when they can’t even pass their own plan?”

    What plan has the Senate passed in the last 4 years? Obama’s last budget plan was voted down by both Democrats and Republicans by a landslide.

  6. rusty49

    medwoman
    “This comment is as irrelevant as it is despicable, ranking right up their with MH’s comment about sleeping with the
    Woodland elected officials.”

    What’s despicable is 4 of our patriots died in Benghazi and Hillary has to now twice come up with phony illnesses to keep from testifying. Oh please don’t tell me that Democrats are actually believing her story?

  7. SouthofDavis

    David wrote:

    > In fact, it is worth noting we had some of the longest
    > peace time economic expansion with those tax rates
    > in place.

    The reason that we had this big economic expansion is that the government (run by BOTH the Dems. and GOP) kept the tax rates lower than the cost of providing the services and borrowed the difference. If I started a business that provided services for less than it cost (while overpaying my employees and promising them lifetime pensions that using basic math and historic investment returns will be impossible to provide) and borrowed the difference every year I had better get ready for the “economic expansion” end (since you can’t “borrow your way to prosperity”)…

    > Rusty: How do you not blame the GOP when they
    > can’t even pass their own plan?

    Obama and the Democrats seem to be working hard to change this, but as of the last time I looked we had a GOP president when we added the most to our national debt. The Democrats AND the GOP are to blame since neither party wants to admit how bad things are and want to keep the borrowed money flowing to the people that give them campaign cash (e.g. Unions for the Dems and Defense contractors for the GOP). It is sad that most people look at politics like sports and like the GOP in the same way that they like the Raiders and hate the Dems in the way that they hate the 49ers. My guess is that we will “solve” the fiscal cliff problem by keeping taxes low and borrowing even more (that will continue to work until it doesn’t – we can’t sell out debt any more)…

    P.S. One of my favorite quotes from Hemmingway’s The Sun Also Rises is “How did you go bankrupt?” Bill asked” “Two ways,” Mike said. “Gradually and then suddenly”…

  8. Ryan Kelly

    UC Davis has already implemented the new tax rates for the December paychecks, which are paid on Jan. 1. It is quite a bite. Much larger than any increase in water rates, yet the bickering just seems to go on.

  9. Rifkin

    David: [i]”The truth is that, if the tax cuts expire, we do not suddenly fall into the ocean. In fact, it is worth noting we had some of the longest peace time economic expansion with those tax rates in place.”[/i]

    It seems pretty clear to me that there will be no deal before January 1.* I will be surprised if between now and mid-January that the Dow Jones Industrial Average does not lose 2,000 or more points as the fear of a new recession comes into play.

    However, I think there is a fairly likely deal which both sides can live with, but only after we go over the cliff and the Bush tax cuts expire and the Obama tax cuts expire. This is the deal:

    A majority of both parties in Congress will support reinstating Obama’s tax cuts, but not Bush’s. There will be some sort of commission on future reductions in Social Security and Medicare. There will be a very small decrease in defense spending. And the budgets of all other aspects of federal spending will more-less be capped where they are now.

    *While I don’t expect a deal before New Year’s Day, I could imagine some parliamentary legerdemain whereby they freeze the clock on Dec. 31 and thus we don’t go over the cliff for that reason.

  10. Rifkin

    A piece of excellent journalism which I highly recommend on the topic of the fiscal cliff is this one I found in The Davis Enterprise ([url]http://www.davisenterprise.com/forum/opinion-columns/do-we-need-the-fiscal-cliff/[/url]). It notes that if we go over the fiscal cliff and no deal is reached in 2013, we will go into a recession. However, it is fairly sanguine for the long-term after we emerge from that downturn: [quote] The CBO believes the tax hikes and spending cuts required under current law, beginning Jan. 1, 2013, will drag the U.S. into a short recession. It says the fiscal cliff will cause the economy “to contract at an annual rate of 1.3 percent in the first half of the year and expand at an annual rate of 2.3 percent in the second half.”

    Without the tax hikes and spending cuts, CBO estimates the real U.S. GDP will increase by 4.4 percent next year. [/quote] Given CBO’s projections, it seems to me that our nation’s finances will be in better shape 5 years from now if no deal is made between now and the New Year, and even if no deal is made in 2013. The fiscal cliff will be bitter medicine. But it will have salutary effects.

  11. J.R.

    I’m confused.

    For years I’ve been reading that Bush cut taxes for the rich.

    Now I’m told that most of the benefits of the Bush tax cuts went to the middle class, who would be devastated if we let these taxes expire for everyone.

  12. David M. Greenwald

    Rich: I don’t see the big deal if the tax cuts expire. They would expire for 2013 and it might have an impact all told if it never gets restore, but it is not as though on January 1 we face any real crisis. The biggest impact will come with new paychecks, but most people will be facing maybe a $50 increase in withholding – and frankly I would suggest people reduce their withholding because my guess at some point there will be a deal reached.

  13. David M. Greenwald

    “Now I’m told that most of the benefits of the Bush tax cuts went to the middle class,”

    Who told you that *most* of the benefits went to the middle class?

  14. Mr.Toad

    “OweBlamer”

    Does this mean I can use Repugs?

    I think two of the truly weirdest things I have ever seen have taken place and it makes me wonder about the Republican leadership. Recently we saw the Senate Minority Leader filibuster his own bill and now we have seen the Speaker of the house withdraw a bill he said he would bring to a vote on the same issue. This must be unprecedented.

    I think there is only one way out for the Republicans to prevent the Bush tax cuts from expiring, a discharge petition. The Speaker has been following the Hastert Rule that he would only bring up legislation for a vote if a majority of Republicans supported it. If there are enough House Republicans in combination with the Dems to pass the Senate Bill to extend the tax rates for 98% then we won’t go over the cliff and the Speaker will not have violated the Hastert rule. The other possibility is that something gets worked out through negotiation before the ball drops on Times Square.

    Still, it won’t be the end of the world if the Bush tax cuts expire. Although it would cause another recession it would also shore up the finances of the USA and restore our S&P AAA credit rating unless the Republicans cause the country to default, something we have never before in our history done, by not raising the debt ceiling. I wonder what all those old Republicans will do when their bond funds default because the house fails to pass a debt ceiling increase? I can’t imagine them ever refusing to do so but they may surprise me yet again.

  15. Rifkin

    David: [i]”Rich: I don’t see the big deal if the tax cuts expire. They would expire for 2013 and it might have an impact all told if it never gets restore, but it is not as though on January 1 we face any real crisis.”[/i]

    Agreed. The January 1 event will be psychological, not material. That probably will spook the equity markets. But none of that matters if a compromise is reached within 30 days or so. Unless it is a terrible compromise, the markets would likely regain any lost ground.

    What the economists from UCD told me is that the danger with tax hikes right now is that, in their view, our economy is vulnerable. If unemployment were about 4%, then tax hikes would be okay, because in a full-employment economy there is sufficient aggregate demand.

    But in today’s economy, with unemployment still high, a tax hike will drop aggregate demand, and that will likely be enough of a hit to make growth negative for a couple of quarters. In other words, it would put us in a recession.

    But as I said above, I think after Jan. 1 a deal will be reached. The Bush tax cuts will expire, and then Norquist’s Republicans will have no problem cutting taxes on everyone below $250,000.*

    *I have heard that a possible deal (next year, not now) is that Obama will move that $250,000 number up, maybe to $350,000, maybe to $500,000. Sen. Charles Schumer of New York is pushing that compromise idea, apparently.

  16. Don Shor

    I see no reason to believe the Republican caucus would accept that compromise any more than the current ones being floated around. Club for Growth and the Tea Party organizations will not accept anything that looks like a tax increase, regardless of how it’s presented. Tea Party Nation is openly calling for Boehner to be replaced (Newt Gingrich is their preferred choice; apparently the Speaker doesn’t have to be a member). Club for Growth will put up primary candidates against anyone who breaks with their rigid ideology. A majority of Republicans come from completely safe districts, so their only fear is a primary challenge.
    We are watching the disintegration of the Republican Party. It is no longer even an opposition party, and it’s far from being a party capable of governance. it’s a protest party.

  17. Don Shor

    Daily Kos describes a course of action that only requires 26 House Republicans. [url]http://www.dailykos.com/story/2012/12/21/1172914/-White-House-said-to-be-considering-smaller-fiscal-cliff-nbsp-package[/url]

  18. Rifkin

    The Schumer compromise I mentioned would be a compromise of the Democrats, not the Republicans.

    I agree that it is very unlikely the Republicans will bend. That means we will go over the cliff.

    But at that point, all the power to cut tax rates will be with Obama. And Obama has been clear he wants to cut rates back some for those under $250,000 and to reinstate the payroll tax cuts he put in place in 2009.

    I don’t think there is any majority which would not vote in favor of that sort of a tax cut in January. It never requires Republicans to break their pledge.

  19. J.R.

    [quote] Who told you that *most* of the benefits went to the middle class[/quote]

    President Obama did, unless I misunderstood him.

    He indicated that it would be a disaster if the portion of the Bush tax cuts dedicated to the middle class expired along with the Bush tax cuts for the rich (whose end he does advocate).

    David, you’re an expert on this topic. What fraction of the Bush tax cuts goes to those making over $250,000 (the rich according to Obama’s usage)?

  20. Don Shor

    [i]What fraction of the Bush tax cuts goes to those making over $250,000 (the rich according to Obama’s usage)?
    [/i]
    Per Wikipedia:
    “Making the tax cuts permanent for all taxpayers, regardless of income, would increase the national debt $3.3 trillion over the next 10 years.
    Limiting the extension to individuals making less than $200,000 and married couples earning less than $250,000 would increase the debt about $2.2 trillion in the next decade.”

    By deduction, the fraction is 1/3, at least with respect to these particular Bush-era tax cuts.

  21. J.R.

    Thanks Don. That resolves the question. Most of the benefits did go to the middle class, roughly 2/3 of the total dollars. I guess all those people who said the Bush tax cuts were primarily for the rich were not being completely honest.

  22. Don Shor

    [i]For years I’ve been reading that Bush cut taxes for the rich.

    Now I’m told that most of the benefits of the Bush tax cuts went to the middle class, who would be devastated if we let these taxes expire for everyone.

    I guess all those people who said the Bush tax cuts were primarily for the rich were not being completely honest.[/i]

    I suppose it all depends on whether you’re referring to total dollars, dollars per capita, or percentages. One could say all of those things and be right one way or another.

  23. J.R.

    The saying is [quote]Lies, damned lies and statistics[/quote]

    [url]http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lies,_damned_lies,_and_statistics[/url]

    But perhaps political spin should be added as a fourth step.

  24. Frankly

    [i]We are watching the disintegration of the Republican Party. It is no longer even an opposition party, and it’s far from being a party capable of governance. it’s a protest party.[/i]

    Sure Don, tell that to all those Republican Governors.

    The Republicans remind me of the 80s Democrats. It takes a generation to weed out the junk. The cycle will repeat.

    However, the country is becoming more and more like California… left, ungovernable and moving toward insolvency. I think we are going to be more and more divided going forward… not because of the Republican party, but because of a fundemental change in voter views and preferences.

    I hired a 24 year-old UCD grad as an intern, and just offered him a full-time position. He is a bundle of capable career excitment now. Prior to this he was directionless and insecure about his future.

    This situation caused an epiphany for me related to young people and their politcal leanings. Getting the ideology of the right requires the kind of private-sector work experience that opens up the mind to the possibilites of career advancement that leads to individually-earned economic growth. With limited job and career-growth opportunities, more youg people fail to evolve past a mindset and perspective that someone needs to take care of them. Because they have not experienced the rush of discovery for the potential rewards from individual achievement in industry and free-enterprise, they simply don’t value these things enough.

    The same is true for the minority population.

    People lacking this experience would not understand it, and they would not value it. Because they don’t understand it and don’t value it, they would also not understand they too can achieve what successful people have achieved. They would begin to see themselves as being different than successful people and unable to attain the same things. That would be an inaccurate perspective, but understandable given their lack of experience seeing how it all works.

    This creates a great problem for us as a country. It is a catalyst for a spiral downward. We grow a larger population of takers as more people fail to learn the benefits of involvement in the private economy. We grow in untapped and unused human capability, and shrink in the production that would otherwise in-turn create more opportunity to tap and use more human capability.

    Unlike the left message (that government should and will take care of you), the right message is next to impossible to simply articulate. It requires work experience in a robust and growing economy.

    I think Obama and the Democrats know this.

    I think they understand that a robust and growing private economy means more voters gaining this experience that leads them to understand and value the ideas of the political right. It is not that Dems do not want the economy to grow, they just want to make sure that government has a much larger hand in it so it cannot be as easily recognized as being private and attributable to Republican ideas.

    The problem with this Dem approach is that it does not work. It never has, and never will.

    But that is the direction we are going.

    It will all end very badly in my opinion. Our children are doomed.

  25. David M. Greenwald

    “David, you’re an expert on this topic. What fraction of the Bush tax cuts goes to those making over $250,000 (the rich according to Obama’s usage)?”

    IMO, you’re asking the wrong question. The question you should be asking is how large a cut those making over $250K get versus those under. The problem with your question is that there are simply far more people making less than $250K than more.

  26. Frankly

    [i]The difference is that I can’t think of any liberal organizations that are threatening safe Dem incumbents with primary challenges from the left.[/i]

    That is for a couple of reasons:

    1. The Dems are firmly controlled by left ideological extremists from a historical perspective. So, only the most extreme of left-leaning people would want to threaten Dem incumbents (e.g., Marxists, communists, etc.). Thankfully there are not enough of those extreme extremists yet.

    2. Liberal Dems groups tend to be small special interest groups. They are not there to challenge the “ideology” of the left… only to get their pet legislation approved. Conversely, the Tea Party exists only to challenge the ideology of the Republicans and to move the country back to a center-right fiscal policy.

    The Republicans are like an NFL team that has to rebuild, but is still controlled by crappy ownership and crappy management. But in this case, a deranged and hostile media prevents any new ownership and management from wanting to take control. So, they fight from within.

  27. Rifkin

    [b]Jeff:[/b] [i]”1. The Dems are firmly controlled by left ideological extremists from a historical perspective. … 2. Liberal Dems groups tend to be small special interest groups. They are not there to challenge the “ideology” of the left… only to get their pet legislation approved.”[/i]

    Your second answer is correct. It, however, contradicts your first answer, which is a good description of today’s very ideological Republican Party.

    I am not saying that Democrats are void of ideology. But they are much more interested in narrow self-interest than ideology per se. What drives many of the Democrats to be anti-free trade, for example, is not a mercantilist ideology. It is the narrow self-interest of the union money which funds their campaigns. What drives many of the Democrats to oppose reasonable school reforms, such as basing teacher pay on performance, is not an ideology, but the money and votes that they get from teachers.

    Republicans, in a post-Bob Michel ([url]http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_H._Michel[/url]) world, are far more interested in purity, far less in commpromise. That is not to say that Republicans are not influenced by their financiers, as well. Big Pharma and Big Farmers regularly write bills that Republicans approve, because they need the money those special interests provide them.

    But many elected Republicans, unlike most Democrats, will let their ideology (and their principles) drive their votes, even when there are good pragamatic reasons to vote otherwise. The Tea Party Republicans, for example, would not vote to raise the debt ceiling last year. That was a position based on principle. But it was against the U.S. national interest. The consequences of not raising the ceiling would have been disastrous. It was not the case that those Republicans who took that stance were carrying water for a special, narrow interest. Big Banks did not favor this “principle.” The Tea Partiers were voting based entirely on ideology, no matter what.

  28. Davis Progressive

    rich: i think you are making this more complicated than it should be. the biggest difference is that the democrats lost the white house from 1968 until 1992 except four years of carter. then in 1994, they lost the house and senate. from 1968 to 1992, the democrats were very much like the republicans are today. losing made them less ideological and more pragmatic. republicans have not reached that point yet.

  29. Rifkin

    An interesting case of ideological purity in the Republican Party comes with guns and the influence of the NRA. A small part of the drive is the hundreds of millions of dollars that gun makers pour into the NRA to fund campaigns for Republicans who are pro-guns at any price and equal amounts of money the NRA pours into the coffers of Republicans who challenge other Republicans whose gun ideology is much less pure. But a much larger driver than gun-maker money is pure ideology. If a Republican runs today who, for example, supports limiting the magazine capacity for assault rifles (as the law in California does), he will be beaten down and dragged from office by the hard core right wing ideology of the gun makers and gun sellers and gun purists. That sort of a Republican cannot survive any primary challenge. He cannot hold office with that point of view. The voters in GOP primaries don’t really care about the monetary interests of the gun manufacturers who fund the NRA. They largely hold a very rigid pro-gun ideology and they will vote strictly against any Republican in a primary who does not hold that same rigid ideology.

    There is no real ideological equivalent on the Democratic side. There are special interests where no Democrats can afford to be on the “wrong” side. A good example is with “support for education,” which is reality is a guise for “support for the teachers unions.” In other words, if a Democrat is perceived as being “anti-education,” he will get dumped by his party. But the driver is a narrow special interest. It’s hard to say it is based on ideology.

    Maybe the closest ideological driver for Democratic voters is being “pro-choice” on abortion. But Dems are far less pure on that issue than Republicans are when it comes to guns. Yes, the national Democratic Party is quite pure on abortion. But there are plenty of Democrats who get elected at the local, state and Congressional level who are strongly anti-abortion. Democratic voters in most cases do not base their votes on that one issue, the way Republican primary voters do on their core ideology.

  30. Rifkin

    Growth: I agree with your description of the Democrats.

    What is interesting is the change in the Republican Party from 1964 on. In fits and starts, it became more and more ideologically “pure” (mostly meaning “conservative), and that coincided with a general trend of winning more elections and (of course) the Democrats losing more.

    So for Republicans in 2012 (especially ideologues), a growth in purity tracks well with a growth in success. Bob Michel never led the GOP to win the House. Newt Gingrich did. Nixon, unlike Goldwater, won the presidency. But Nixon, unlike Reagan, failed to change the politics of the Congress from liberal to conservative.

    Hard right Republicans not only agree with all of the Reagan agenda*, but they see him as a model for winning elections. By contrast, moderates like Nixon, Ford, Bush I and Dole failed (in their view) to make America as conservative as they want it to be.

    *They tend to forget all those tax increases and his immigration amnesty, etc.

  31. Frankly

    [i]Jeff: “1. The Dems are firmly controlled by left ideological extremists from a historical perspective. … 2. Liberal Dems groups tend to be small special interest groups.

    Rich: “Your second answer is correct. It, however, contradicts your first answer, which is a good description of today’s very ideological Republican Party. [/i]

    The politicians elected are the left ideologues or else they appear that way trying to satisfy the demands of the Democrat consituency which is fragmented into hundreds of smallish single-issue special interest groups.

    I agree that the Republicans are more ideologically pure. I think they have always been more principled this way… with the Dems more fragmented and squabbling internally. Because of this I think it has been historically easier for Republicans to deliver their message than it has been for Democrats.

    But something changed this election. Republicans know it and feel it. It is viewed as an ominous turn of the electorate. I expect the Republicans to emerge stronger after the current crop of old guard is weeded out. However, I don’t expect the electorate to change. From my perspective, they are lost and we are doomed because of it. It is simply described as a shift to a predominate popualtion of takers supplanting the previous political power of the makers. It is a slipperly slope that we will never climb back from… because we incrementally train each successive generation in this new normal of a life with entitlements and nanny government. The evidence for what this slide will look like is all around us.

    The educated and successful conservatives I know have already hit the point of resignation that our Democratic system has failed the country. I expect there to be an explosion of survivalists, gated communities in rural areas, and red states attempting to distance themselves from the coming chaos that will start in the blue states and spread.

    I also think we will be militarily attacked, and with our weakened economy and weakened military and population trained to expect someone else to do the hard work for them… we will be defeated.

  32. Don Shor

    We’ll only be ‘defeated’ if we embark on a foolish military endeavor in a place where we can’t win.

    [i]But something changed this election. Republicans know it and feel it. It is viewed as an ominous turn of the electorate.[/i]

    The Republican party has grown much more conservative than the country. It finally caught up with them. It wasn’t the electorate that turned.

  33. David M. Greenwald

    A distribution of house members according to Nate Silver:

    [img]http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2012/12/21/us/politics/1221silver/1221silver-blog480.jpg[/img]

  34. Rifkin

    [i]”I agree that the Republicans are more ideologically pure. I think they have always been more principled this way … “[/i]

    Maybe (since 1932). However, what that ideology was and what it is now has changed quite a bit. A man like Eisenhower, whose politics are to the left of Colin Powell’s, could never win in today’s Republican field. Same for Nixon. Even Barry Goldwater would struggle to meet the demands of the Republican purists.

    On top of that, the Republicans used to have a liberal wing (largely in the northeast, but with a few, like George Romney, in the midwest and Earl Warren, on the west coast). But all old-time liberal Republicans have died off or become Democrats or independents. The state of Maine is about the only place left with liberal Republicans who win office.

    At the same time, the entire Congressional delegation from the South used to be conservative Democrats with some who were ideological purists*. There were always a small number of conservative Dems from outside the South, too. But the South, starting with Strom Thurmond in 1964, became (at least among whites) very Republican. It has remained conservative.

    As I see things, the southernization of the Republicans since 1964 has changed the GOP ideology: It was one based on balancing the books conservativism, pro-business, cautious about spending. In other words, it was a Main Street company party; it became a party which cares a lot about fundamentalist Christian values as determined by southern evangelicals. In other words, it is now a church-first party.

    Today’s Republicans care way more about abortion and gun-rights and (at least among older ones) hating gays than they do about fiscal responsibility. It is Pat Robertson politics; not Warren Buffet’s.

  35. Rifkin

    [i]”At the same time, the entire Congressional delegation from the South used to be conservative Democrats with some who were ideological purists*.”[/i]

    *No one epitomized this purity more than Mr. Economy, Sen. Harry Byrd of Virginia. He was a hell-bent ideologue, very conservative even for his day. And like so many conservative Democrats from the South, he was in office for decades (maybe 35 or 40 years, I don’t know for sure) and he used his seniority to great advantage. That is why and how the South dominated American politics for most of the 20th Century, despite being out of step with the rest of the country most of the time.

  36. medwoman

    JB

    [quote]This creates a great problem for us as a country. It is a catalyst for a spiral downward. We grow a larger population of takers as more people fail to learn the benefits of involvement in the private economy. We grow in untapped and unused human capability, and shrink in the production that would otherwise in-turn create more opportunity to tap and use more human capability. [/quote]

    I am truly sorry that you have such a pessimistic view of our national future. I do not share your pessimism. This is because I do not share your belief that individual economic gain is the only or even the most important individual motivator. I also do not believe that employment in the public sector is in and of itself any more virtuous than employment in the public sector.

    I will give you a few examples of highly successful people whose primary motivation is not accumulation of wealth.

    Our military and allied support services. These are highly dedicated people who are doing what they do because of a sense of pride in our country or because of dedication or duty. They are certainly not in it primarily for the money.

    Health care professionals of all groups are frequently motivated by their belief that their efforts help others as much as they are by financial gain. This is as true of those with whom I have worked in the Public Health Service,
    the VA and the private sector both in fee for service and large group, salaried practice.

    Teachers are very rarely motivated primarily by individual financial gain. We simply do not pay them enough for this to be their primary motivator and yet many are dedicated and very hard working. This is true of both public school teachers and those I encountered at St. Francis.

    Many scientists go into their respective fields and spend their entire careers devoted to their profession all the while knowing that they will not become rich from their efforts.

    The same is true for many artists and craftsmen.

    I simply do not believe that without the drive to become wealthy, people will languish and or become takers.

  37. medwoman

    Ooops. That obviously should have been …” I do not believe that employment in the private sector is in and of itself any more virtuous than in the public sector.”

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