As I was wandering the streets of our nation’s capital yesterday, a headline on a USA Today newspaper in a vending box caught my eye. Not because the story was news to me, but because it was actually top of the fold on the front page of the most “mainstream” of newspapers.
The article was titled: “U.S. funding for future promises lags by trillions,” and subtitled something like “Government obligations now $527,000 per household.”
When the media for everyman starts understanding just how dire our fiscal situation is, and starts telling everyman that it is so, those in political power — especially those seen as particularly responsible for, or ineffective in dealing with, the problem — should be running scared.
And while Republicans of the past decade surely have much to answer for, this isn’t your father’s Republican House of Representatives, and everybody knows it. The GOP freshman class is very large and they don’t (yet?) have the Potomac Fever which has caused us so much harm in years past. They’re still angry with John Boehner’s compromise on the 2011 Continuing Resolution, with many of them believing that the deal ended up cutting a minuscule amount of spending. They’re channeling The Who: “We won’t get fooled again.”
Meanwhile, the Obama Administration has given us the impactless but expensive cash-for-clunkers, home loan modification programs and tax credits, and of course the massive failure of the “stimulus” which has stimulated nothing but the growth of the federal government’s reach and cost.
President Obama lost the tax debate, as he should have, when he agreed to extend the Bush tax cuts for all brackets. After all, if the economy improves (which it won’t while suffocating under the wet blanket of Obamacare and this administration’s EPA, NLRB, FCC, and Department of the Interior, just to name a few), a strong argument would be made that low and consistent tax rates were of benefit and shouldn’t be tinkered with. Alternatively, if the economy continues to sputter, Obama has already conceded that higher tax rates would doom any potential recovery.
Therefore, between Obama’s December agreement and the current GOP’s absolute refusal to go along with any increase in income tax rates, that particular policy disaster is likely to be held off for some time.
Democrats in Congress, however, still dream for an even more “progressive” system even if it doesn’t generate increased revenue for the government. The fact that they’ll keep trying for a tax rate hike means that upcoming debates over spending and the debt ceiling will be even more difficult than they otherwise might be. Obama will agree with them even though he’s basically the guy who killed any chance of a tax hike; it’s the old story of a broken clock being right twice a day, and wrong the rest of the time. (Don’t forget, Obama is the guy who said that he would raise capital gains taxes “in the interest of fairness” even if he knew in advance that the hike would not generate increased revenue for the government.)
My ongoing theme for the 2012 elections is like Coke’s: “the real thing.”
When members of both parties were spending money like drunken sailors (a comparison which is truly an insult to drunken sailors), voters said “hey, if we’re going to elect a government of big-spenders, let’s go with the real pros, the Democrats, and not those GOP Johnny-come-latelies.”
When the as-mainstream-as-possible USA Today is talking about our having debt problems, voters will want the real thing when it comes to cutting spending, and that bodes extremely badly for Democrat electoral hopes in 2012.