The cost of doing nothing for two years

Second, the failure to confront the debt problem right now greatly raises the risk of a fiscal crisis that would make borrowing far more expensive for the U.S. government. The sharp increase in interest payments would deepen the budget hole, forcing an era of austerity, led by reductions in benefits, that’s virtually unimaginable today. “If we don’t take immediate action, we’re facing a super sub-prime debt problem with dramatic effects on interest rates and the value of the dollar,” warns David Walker, chief of the Peter G. Peterson Foundation, a think-tank that specializes in budget issues. “We risk losing control of our destiny.

One of the most irritating memes of this past election season was “Bush started the spending spree, not us!”. Sorry, but that doesn’t excuse you one jot for RAMPING UP SPENDING EVEN MORE.

The saddest and most disgusting part of watching the aftermath: Obama actually seems to GET that the American people are fed up with financial incontinence (and I use that word intentionally). But most of of the liberal commentators, not to mention a lot of the liberals I know), seem to be in complete denial. They want to believe that it’s all about sheer stupidity; or about racism; or about the Religious Right, or any of a half-dozen other red herrings. They seem fundamentally incapable of accepting that the single consistent central Tea Party talking point – getting federal spending under control – is something that people actually CARE about, and not just a front for darker motives. The democratic party is going to suffer until it can educate itself about this one, simple fact.

P.S. I’m not saying that the Republicans are going to be any better about this, just that the Democrats have been deep in denial over it. The article cited above says a lot about breaking through gridlock, but honestly, our best hope may lie in gridlock. Government grows less in gridlock years than when under single-party control.

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  1. Joshua Kundert November 7, 2010 at 15:59

    All I’d say is that teh Tea Party Movement seems to be a lot of everything you mention above. Polls show that abot 50% of Tea partiers consider themselves fundamentalist evangelical Christians–which does make the movment strongly influenced and/or part of the Religious Right. There was obviously a good amount of Racism tied up in various parts of the Tea Party movement–if you caught the statements of various folks at times as well as the general signage… As for the central theme–I get it and totally acknowledge that they want to get spending under control. However, with brief exceptions of Rand Paul saying Defense Spending would be on the table (and getting attacked for that by the Rest of the Republicans)–Tea Party CANDIDATES–if not necessarily the people who decided to vote for them–have talked about needing to control spending–but almost simultaneously have either gone along wholesale–without a peep–about extending bush tax cuts–and also have often repeated the totally insane and impossible mantra of “cutting discretionary spending” as the only way to solve the spending crisis.That’s mathematically stupid, though, since such spending only accounts for $438 billion of gov’t spending–and we’ve been running deficits of 1.4 trillion recently. The minute I hear a Tea Party supporter recognize that we WILL HAVE TO RAISE TAXES–to pay for our gov’t–I will INSTANTLY find them more credible.Again–I will simiarly say that most Dems in this country haven’t been all that credible here–but so far the analogy that seems to fit what’s going on here better isn’t incontinence–but rather a real sense of spending obesity–and Tea Partiers are rightfully stating that we need to not “eat” so much–but they aren’t willing to cut their calories down from 3500 a day down to 2100 a day (the $ amounts of our Outlays and Intakes in Billions)–but keep talking about how they are going to reduce the size of that one snack they eat before dinner sharply (that 438 calorie muffin) even though they probably wouldn’t want to eliminate it entirely–as it contains things–like those scrumptious Israeli Foreign Aid Pecans–that they consider necessary for life. They also CATEGORICALLY refuse to do any more exercise and think that anyone who says that they need to is some evil nanny-state liberal telling them what to do… That’s the impression I’ve gotten. Again–I’d be more receptive–and am totally receptive–to anyone who presents a serious budget proposal that includes raising taxes, defense cuts, and discretionary spending cuts–as well as smart medicare cuts (something the tea party politicians have fought against, actually–see Rand Paul)–and changing Social Security’s structure so that it raises retirement ages, takes soc. Sec receipts from all income rather than just the first $106k, and also means tests outlays.. That’s what I’m looking for… If I saw a Tea Party candidate come out with that–I’d ditch the dems in a heartbeat–becaus that candidate would be truly fiscally sane–and my Swiss heart and liberal sensibilities could get all behind that… This means, of course, that you must run in 2012, Avdi. πŸ˜‰

  2. Like I said, I don’t think the Tea Party candidates are actually going to do any good in this department.All I’m trying to point out with this is that I’ve seen a lot of people trying to act as if anything BUT the primary talking point of the Tea Party voters (voters, not candidates) was their real objective. As if for some reason they all collectively decided to erect a massive smoke screen of fiscal concern behind which to hide all their REAL intentions of racism, theocracy, and greed.Obviously, there’s a very real overlap between Tea Party and WASP, between Tea Party and evangelical, between Tea Party and business, between Tea Party and stupid and/or crazy. I just don’t get why people are so eager to say “noooo, downsizing DC couldn’t be their REAL agenda, what they REALLY care about is…”I guess the real problem I see is that a lot of commentators are taking it a step further, and saying “…and since the REAL reason is that they are all racists, we can safely dismiss them.” Or “and since the REAL reason is that they are just stupid, we can ignore them and go back to banging on the same policy drums we’ve been banging on this whole time”.My impression after 2010 was that among Republican ranks there wasn’t much denial – it seemed like there was a pretty solid understanding of “we done fucked up good – now how to we bamboozle them into thinking we’ve reformed?”. A lot of the democrat commentary I’ve been reading since Tuesday has been more along the lines of “OH SHIT WE DIDN’T ACT SOCIALIST ENOUGH WE SHOULD HAVE GROWN SOME BIG BRASS ONES AND NATIONALIZED THE OIL COMPANIES TOO”. I exaggerate, but only a little.

  3. Er, and by 2010 I meant 2008.

  4. You can never *safely* dismiss racists, bigots, or stupid/crazy people… especially when they’re voting en masse to impose their bigotry. I agree that the only thing the Tea Party has tried to be to consistent on is cutting spending (although certain factions of the Tea Party have announced that this election was also a referendum on “Family Values”, etc). That said, I agree with Joshua that most of them haven’t proven themselves to be credible on their CORE issue, because almost all of them babble on about making all of their cuts to discretionary funding but in the next breath ensure us that the defence budget is sacred and the big entitlements (Medicare, Social Security) won’t be touched. How am I supposed to take them seriously? How am I supposed to take the people that voted for them seriously, until the candidates start catching significant flack for this? (Rand Paul stands apart as relatively intelligent and consistently principled.)

  5. *Ron* Paul stands apart as being consistently principled. Rand Paul has been much more fungible since discovering he was actually electable.

  6. “relatively” being the operative word. Average Tea Party candidate : Rand :: Rand : Ron. πŸ˜‰

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