Conservative Political Commentary

...usually with an attempt at historical and economic context

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Sequestration, Fiscal Cliff, or Both



House Republicans have some major decisions to make. Unfortunately, it is likely that any “grand bargain” would involve the GOP capitulating to Obama. Their “No tax increases” pledge will probably go the way of George H. W. Bush’s “Read my lips” promise. Thus they will accomplish the very thing they are supposedly trying to prevent.

Taxes should be the area where Republicans in the House hold the line. Any expected increase in tax revenue is illusory if rates are increased, since the economy will be slowed, and revenues will soon be lower. As Patrick Buchanan writes,
 What are the perils for Republicans who sign on to an Obama deal?

They will sever themselves permanently from much of the base of the party. While their votes may ensure that tax rates or revenues rise, they will have no assurance that the promised spending cuts will ever be made. Even Reagan fell victim to this bait-and-switch.

Then, if the tax hikes slow the economy, Republican collaborators will share the blame. Not only will they have gone back on their word, they will have damaged the recovery. What would be their argument for re-election?

Actually, Republicans can be assured that the spending cuts would never be made. Democrats will never cut spending, no matter what they say. This is a reality that cannot be changed. If the GOP goes along with Obama, their party will become even weaker.

As for sequestration, I agree with both Pat Buchanan and Bill Wilson that the GOP should simply allow it to happen. At least there will be real spending cuts somewhere, and otherwise there won’t be.   

As Wilson points out, the idea that sequestration will reduce GDP, the part it will reduce is government spending, which should be greatly reduced. So the reduced GDP excuse for avoiding it is weakened, although still technically a valid argument.

Daniel J. Mitchell of Cato Institute has an article entitled “Sequestration Is a Small Step in the Right Direction, Not Something to Be Feared.” He shows that even with sequestration, federal spending will continue to increase year by year, and that sequestration cuts represent only a small part of overall spending.

But there would be actual cuts. Mitchell quotes then-Senator Bob Packwood from a 1989 similar fight:
Instead of budget gimmicks, accounting tricks, phony cuts, and “revenue enhancements,” a sequester would reduce spending levels by a fixed percentage in eligible spending programs. In other words, unlike most deficit reduction packages, sequestration would actually reduce the deficit.
During the third presidential debate of 2012, President Obama said that sequestration “won’t happen,” but there is reason to think it may very well happen, and that it wouldn’t be a disaster.

What would be very disturbing to the economy is “Taxmageddon,” but let it be by the hands of Obama and the Democrats. The GOP House should stick to its principles, and pass an extension of all the Bush tax cuts. Let the guilt be on the tax-and-spend Democrats. From them, we can never expect anything other than more taxes and higher spending.  They won the election. As Buchanan suggests, let them explain it to the American people.

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Sunday, November 11, 2012

Obama’s Victory: A Lost Opportunity and a Failure of Citizenship



Disappointment is hardly the word to describe my opinion of the presidential election result. There is truth in The Patriot Post’s cartoon.
The Patriot Post

Have we reached the point where Americans will vote for “free stuff” without regard to the condition of our country? The liberal establishment promotes the entitlement mindset, which conservatives have not succeeded in countering. The schools reinforce the virtues of big government, and the media promotes the decay of morality while they cover up for Obama’s failures. The liberals downplay the seriousness of America’s economic problems, and never mention the dangers facing the dollar. We need not puzzle too much over the lost opportunity of a good chance we had of avoiding fiscal collapse. We just need to face reality.

This is a situation that, in my view, a Christian has to realize, is ultimately in God’s hands. As I try to look at this from an evangelical orthodox Christian standpoint, several aspects of it come to mind.

 1. In view of recent history, the Obama Administration’s policies are evidence that God’s punitive judgment is upon America for serious and worsening sin. That does not mean that everyone who suffers under God’s judgment of a nation is guilty; the innocent suffer as a result of the sins of the guilty (case in point: babies murdered by abortion). The Sandy superstorm seems to put an exclamation point on the ongoing judgment of America.

2. As John MacArthur has pointed out, one of our major political parties has adopted the sins of Romans 1 as its political platform [1]. MacArthur didn’t say “Democrats” but his meaning is evident. To emphasize their anti-moral attitude, they avoided a convention decision to remove the last mention of God from their party platform (a reference to God-given abilities), by falsely declaring that the group voted by over two-thirds majority to retain the reference. If you think Democrats can’t do any voter fraud, they did in their convention.

3. It is extremely unlikely that anything substantial will be done to reduce the deficits or to slow spending. Taxmageddon will arrive. As Mark Steyn points out, Congress will reach a triumphant “bipartisan” agreement to postpone Taxmageddon for a short while, and also increase the debt ceiling, but these postponements will only make the final result worse.

4. Obama and his minions will continue to chip away at our freedoms with increased fervor, with no one to stop them. Economy-killing regulations, arbitrary restrictions, and executive decrees will rule the day, and the Constitution will suffer even more. The Supreme Court will undermine it still more with new liberal justices, worsening the already unreliable Court.

In terms of what can be done politically to resist any of this, I propose the following, but also think it is likely that little or none of it will be done:

1. Remove House Speaker John Boehner and replace him with a conservative. Or else put plenty of Tea Party pressure on him to not give in to Obama on Obamacare or anything else.

2. Hold a tight grip on the purse strings and don’t be afraid to shut down the government.

3. Do not raise taxes; defund Obamacare and the EPA.

4. Mainly, cut spending. Don’t compromise. Don’t be afraid of gridlock. It’s better than enacting Obama’s agenda.

5. Encourage state nullification of unconstitutional federal laws.

6. Don’t compromise conservative principles.

We lost the election and we will live with the consequences, but we don’t have to give up the fight. A great deal of damage will be done in the next four years, but four years is not forever. Don’t be too anxious to “work with” liberals. The objective should be to defeat them. Those are my suggestions politically.

Politics can’t solve all our problems. In the larger sense, Christians should pray for America and her leaders that God will move them to change the course we’ve been on. However, unless America experiences a strong spiritual revival, it seems we are destined for some very serious troubles in the next few years, which may or may not ever be corrected in this life. The bright side of this is that God still is in control, and we must trust in Him, knowing that eternity awaits, and that He will ultimately make things right.

Christians, pray for America and pray for revival.


[1] John MacArthur, “The Campaign for Immorality,” Decision, November 2011. Published by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, Charlotte, NC.
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