American Elephants

Negotiating With People From Another Planet by The Elephant's Child

Economist Stephen Moore writes today in the Wall Street Journal about an interview with House Speaker John Boehner just after the House vote to avoid the fiscal cliff, and just after Mr. Boehner had been elected to a second term as speaker of the House.

What stunned House Speaker John Boehner more than anything else during his prolonged closed-door budget negotiations with Barack Obama was this revelation: “At one point several weeks ago,” Mr. Boehner says, “the president said to me, ‘We don’t have a spending problem.’ …
The president’s insistence that Washington doesn’t have a spending problem, Mr. Boehner says, is predicated on the belief that massive federal deficits stem from what Mr. Obama called “a health-care problem.” Mr. Boehner says that after he recovered from his astonishment—”They blame all of the fiscal woes on our health-care system”—he replied: “Clearly we have a health-care problem, which is about to get worse with ObamaCare. But, Mr. President, we have a very serious spending problem.” He repeated this message so often, he says, that toward the end of the negotiations, the president became irritated and said: “I’m getting tired of hearing you say that.”…

Mr. Boehner confirms that at one critical juncture he asked Mr. Obama, after conceding on $800 billion in new taxes, “What am I getting?” and the president replied: “You don’t get anything for it. I’m taking that anyway.”

Mr. Boehner was understandably frustrated that Republicans were portrayed by the press as dogmatic and unyielding in these talks. Significant numbers of Democrats really believe that spending is not a problem. Steve Benen at Rachel Maddow’s blog “Sorry, Boehner, spending isn’t the problem,” NewYork Magazine’s Jonathan Chait “There really isn’t money to be cut everywhere…The spending cuts aren’t there because they can’t be found.” Or Mother Jones’ Kevin Drum”We don’t have a spending problem. We have an aging problem.”

This goes back the administration’s initial talks on health care before they passed ObamaCare. The president’s advisers on health care, Ezekiel Emanuel ( brother of Rham), a ‘medical ethicist’ ;Tom Daschle, a former Senate Majority Leader,who went on after defeat to become a lobbyist, wrote a book on universal health care and became a fellow at the Center for American Progress; Dr. Donald Berwick, Budget Director Peter Orzag, and Jacob Hacker among others were all great admirers of Britain’s National Health Service.

This alone should make you wonder where these people are coming from. The current scandal of the NHS involves the report on Stafford Hospital where up to 1,200 people died needlessly in appalling conditions. But this pervades the system. The Daily Mail reports that 60,000 patients have been put on the death pathway without being told, but the minister says the controversial end-of-life plan is “fantastic.” The pathway involves the sick being sedated and denied nutrition and fluids. Families are not told when doctors withdraw lifesaving treatment.

The medical profession in this country has as its goal saving lives and caring for patients. Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, ‘medical ethicist’ says Doctors take their Hippocratic oath too seriously.The Democrat view is that the largest amount of medical expense in our health care system takes place an a persons final years. Sarah Palin was ridiculed by the press when she spoke of “death panels,” but that is the essence of Democrat planning. People in their final years shouldn’t be allowed to run up big bills for major operations, kidney dialysis, cancer treatment — they don’t have enough ‘life-years’ left, and the money is much better spent on the young. And yes, government bureaucrats will determine what life-saving treatments you may have.

Democrats believe that ending that kind of expense can solve our budget problems. They also believe that emergency room treatment is outrageously expensive because those who go to the emergency room have no insurance. This is not true according to the association of emergency room physicians, most of the people who come to the emergency room have health insurance. As one who had an accident-prone kid, anecdotal evidence from the next beds in the emergency room demonstrated cases of ringworm, funny rash, ordinary things better solved with a visit to the drugstore.

How can anyone look at the bloated, overpaid, underworked bureaucrats in unbelievable numbers of agencies, bureaus, administrations are all needed to perform the essential functions of government? ObamaCare, in its original configuration had overlapping hundreds of new agencies. The new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau instantly acquired 900 employees, and began writing thousand-page proposals on streamlining the mortgage application process. Democrats believe that the mortgage crisis happened because evil banks fooled poor people into accepting mortgages that were more than they could afford. No blaming Democrats in Congress for forcing banks to make loans that were subprime with claims of racism and threats of oppressive regulation.

If you begin to suspect that somewhere along the line, good Democrats were replaced by aliens from another planet, you wouldn’t e too far off. Ordinary humans often get to thinking odd things because nobody ever told them the facts, but this prolonged, insistence on an alternate reality is disconcerting.  Stephen Moore’s conversation with Speaker Boehner was titled “The Education of John Boehner.” Mr.Boehner was simply unprepared for the ideological barrier that Mr. Obama has erected around his views. Richard Epstein said that Barack Obama’s ideas were fixed in concrete, that he does not change his mind. Speaker Boehner was dealing with a very bad hand. Many conservatives were angry that he did not get more concessions, but he made 99% of the Bush tax cuts permanent. We couldn’t get that when we had a Republican House and Senate and a Republican in the White House.

Conservative angst is misplaced. Mr. Boehner says that Republicans will not be agreeing to any more tax increases in the next two years. The tax issue is resolved and will be discussed only in the context of a broader debate about tax reform. He dismisses the president’s declaration that future cuts will have to be “balanced.” There will be no more closed-door budget negotiations with the president, which are “futile.” But battles? There will be plenty of those. The president believes in the power of government. Mr. Boehner says. “I believe in the power of the American people. It is really that simple.” And really that difficult.


Ignore the Hyenas and the Wildebeest too. by The Elephant's Child

Economist Dan Mitchell is an excellent explainer, and that’s why I so often post his videos. The Republicans are trying to save the country from the fiscal cliff, the people don’t know what a fiscal cliff is, and Obama thinks he can use the issue to force Republicans into raising taxes, which will destroy that issue for them forever, since Republicans don’t have any other issues, or so Obama believes.

Dan Mitchell believes that Republicans efforts to be “bipartisan” look like weakness to Obama, and have emboldened him.  Dan Mitchell says” Don’t surrender!”

  1. We don’t need a tax increase. We can balance the budget simply by limiting spending so that it grows by “only” 2.5 percent annually. As I say to Cavuto, the White House is pushing higher taxes in order to enable a bigger burden of government spending.
  2. It’s important to define austerity correctly. To provide an analogy, we have to drink liquid to survive, but that doesn’t mean it would be a good idea to guzzle paint thinner. Likewise, we need austerity, but that shouldn’t mean higher taxes. We need to be like Estonia and tighten the belts of the public sector, not the private sector.

“It’s not my  job,” Mitchell says, “to give Republicans political advice, but I also want to expand on arguments I made a couple of days ago, when I gave five policy reasons why the GOP shouldn’t surrender on tax increases.”

If Republicans put tax increases on the table, however, the politics get turned upside down. Instead of being united against all tax increases, voters realize somebody is going to get mugged and they have an incentive to make sure they’re not the ones who get victimized. That’s when soak-the-rich taxes become very appealing.

Democrats, for all intents and purposes, can appeal to average voters by targeting the so-called rich. And even though voters will be skeptical about what Democrats really want, they don’t want to be the primary target of the political predators in Washington.

Think of it this way. You’re a wildebeest running away from a pack of hyenas, but you know one member of your herd will get caught and killed. You despise hyenas, but at that critical moment, you’re main goal is wanting another member of the herd to bite the dust.

This is why surrendering to tax increases put Republicans in a no-win situation. They oppose class-warfare taxes because they understand the disproportionately damaging impact of higher top income tax rates and increased double taxation of dividends and capital gains. So when GOPers get bullied into agreeing to raise taxes, they want to target less destructive sources of revenue. But that usually means…taxes that are more likely to hit the middle class. Needless to say, Democrats almost always win if there is a fight on whether to tax the middle class or to tax the rich.


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