Another Perspective

Can’t Read: The Tea Leaves

A "deal" that sinks, probably forever, any chance that the government could ever be reined in meaningfully.

By 8.2.11

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If a guy hangs out with tough guys long enough he is apt to get to thinking maybe he is tough himself, and by and by other people may get the idea he is tough, and the first thing you know along comes some copper in plain clothes, such as Johnny Brannigan, of the strong-arm squad, and biffs him on the noggin with a blackjack just to see how tough he is. As I say, Basil Valentine is a very harmless guy, but after he is hanging out with Handsome Jack a while, I hear Basil talking very tough to a bus boy, and the chances are he is building himself up to talk tough to a waiter, and then maybe to a head waiter, and finally he may consider himself tough enough to talk tough to anybody.
-- Damon Runyon, Social Error

"Why do you not hit this guy Trivett a punch in the snoot," I say, "and tell him to go on about his business?" "Well," Tobias says, "the reason I do not punch him in the snoot is because he has the idea of punching snoots first, and whose snoot does he punch but mine. Furthermore," Tobias says, "he makes my snoot bleed with the punch, and he says he will do it again if I keep hanging around Miss Deborah Weems. And," Tobias says, "it is mainly because I do not return that punch, being too busy stopping my snoot from bleeding, that Miss Deborah Weems renounces me forever.

"She says she cannot stand for a guy who has no more nerve than me," Tobias says. "but," he says, "I ask you if I am to blame if my mother is frightened by a rabbit a few weeks before I was born, and marks me for life?"
--
Damon Runyon, Tobias the Terrible

Boy oh boy oh boy. Every once in a long while people like you and me who believe in the Constitution make the staggeringly stupid mistake of thinking that we should push Republican lawmakers to fight for principle, to fight for fiscal prudence, to fight for a return to normalcy. We have no one but ourselves to blame when they not only fall on their faces, they actually set the cause back drastically.

After cheerleading for weeks to send the House Republicans to joust with Obama and the Senate Democrats, we have received our comeuppance in spades. They have allowed the White House and the Democrats to advance much farther than they could have on their own. They have produced a "deal" that sinks, probably forever, any chance that the government could ever be reined in meaningfully. On top of that, it will probably grease the skids for Obama to be reelected.

The next time the Republicans -- if the Tea Party do not succeed in replacing them as the alternative to the Democrats -- offer to go to the mat on our behalf, I suggest we all chip in and buy them Hawaiian vacations or something. Leaving them in Washington D.C. is too tempting a target for the Democrats to take advantage of; it is like leaving a punching bag near Muhammad Ali and telling him to take a rest.

First of all, they were supposed to cut spending. Anyone can see that no spending will be cut. The first cuts show up in a few years, they are not real cuts but cuts in the increase of programs, and there is a clause that the cuts can be overridden in case of emergency. As Representative Gohmert pointed out, the Obama Administration got away with classifying the cost of the census under the category of emergency, despite the fact that it was scheduled in the Constitution more than two centuries ago.

Second, they were supposed to prevent taxes from rising. Instead there is a special commission tasked to prevent deficits. This commission is certain to recommend tax increases. What will Republicans do then? One of the top Republicans sent Rush Limbaugh a note assuring him that the Republican House would never agree to the increase. What a total absence of foresight! After this elaborate process is christened by Republicans, if the commission makes a recommendation it will be nearly impossible to resist. Obama would have a field day humiliating them if they did and the public would see his point as reasonable.

Third, the deal accepts the assumption that the Bush tax cuts are costing the government five trillion in revenue over ten years. This stands on its head the idea that lower taxes equal greater economic activity, which returns all or most of the revenue lost; indeed, at a certain level of taxation the government gets more money by taxing at a lower rate. Once the false premise is accepted, then the commission is sure to warn sharply against extending the Bush tax cuts into 2013.

Fourth, this blueprint includes Obamacare, which will generate a significant amount of new revenue because of the many new taxes it includes. It will also bring huge expenses, but those have been discounted by various accounting tricks which the Democrats built into its passage. Thus, if a new President and Senate tried to repeal Obamacare in early 2013, the deficit commission would be crying foul.

Fifth, this was supposed to be a way to set Obama back on his heels. Instead he gets to be the hero in public for his great flexibility. The Republicans are forced to grudgingly acknowledge that he moved toward their position. And the Democrats who know the score get to laugh themselves silly as, once again, they get to punch the Republicans in the snoot first and watch them scurry off trying to stop their snoot from bleeding.

In Hebrew they say: "Lo miduvshaich v'lo mi'uktzaich." Don't give me your honey and don't give me your sting. What would I use the honey for anyway, now that all the tea has been spilled?

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About the Author

Jay D. Homnick, commentator and humorist, is a frequent contributor to The American Spectator.