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Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Republican's 2010 Playbook: Thinking Fourth Dimensionally III

One of the problems with attacks which combine real policy with hypothetical scenarios is that your attack relies almost entirely on hypotheticals. For instance, when the Democrats found out that the Bush administration was spying on international phone calls with no warrants, they created a plethora of hypothetical situations in which little old ladies had NSA bureaucrats listening in on their phone calls. All these attacks had limited effectiveness because all the doomsday scenarios were in fact hypothetical. For all the Democrats talk about the usurption of personal liberty, they could never actually find anyone that had their liberty taken away. People deal much better in reality than in hypotheticals.

The Obama administration is still more than a month away from finishing its first hundred days, and yet, their usurption of centralized power is enormous, unprecedented and it should send chills down the spines of all those that believe in personal liberty. This weekend's demand that the CEO of GM step down is just the latest in the administration's drive for an unprecedented consolidation of power. Treasury Secretary Geithner not only wants to create a systemic risk manager but he wants to give himself the power to step in and take over any company that he deems too big to fail. Already, the government is making decisions no one ever thought someone outside the private sector would make. Their power grab is having real effects not merely hypothetical ones.

Between the stimulus, cap and trade, the bailouts, and regulatory reform, the government is ready to make an unprecedented amount of decisions for both businesses and the consumers at large. The car companies will need to make many more cars that are energy efficient. If you use energy that the government deems isn't healthy for the environment, expect to pay significantly more to do it. Everyone will soon have to have health insurance, like it or not. Fannie/Freddie are now forced to modify loans that the government deems worthy of better deals. The central government will take a much more active role in education as well. Just today, there is a bill that is going through Congress to allow lawmakers to set all pay for every employee, retroactively if necessary, for any company that takes bailout money. In every facet of society, it's nearly endless. The government is making decisions that the private sector should make in any society that values freedom and liberty. All in the name of problem solving, we are seeing the consolidation of power in much greater quantities into the hands of the Obama administration.

Now, one way to attack this power grab is through some cliches and timely quotations of the likes of Thomas Jefferson. After all, we all know that

power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely

and we also know that

a government big enough to give you everything is big enough to take it

All of these are great concepts for a high brow debate, however, if the Republicans are to take advantage politically of this enormous power grab they must set this power grab in more practical terms, MONEY.

The sum total of this power grab is that it costs a lot and we just don't have a limitless amount of money. The down payment on universal health care is nearly $600 billion. The stimulus was $787 billion. This year's budget is nearly $4 trillion. The plan to remove toxic assets will cost up to $1 trillion. The president allowed for nearly 9000 earmarks at a total of $7 billion in order to make deals for his future agenda. Cap and trade will likely cost north of $1 trillion. The consolidation of central power in education will cost in the neighborhood of an extra $100 billion yearly. The bank bailouts cost $750 billion. The automakers were given $50 billion, AIG $175 billion, and Citigroup $40 billion. We are just getting started. The reality is that we can't afford the massive power grab the Obama administration wants and that's the angle of attack the Republicans need to take. Most voters don't understand how concepts like "freedom" and "liberty" apply to their daily lives. They do understand when the government recklessly borrows and spends money no one has.

The endless, uncontrolled, and runaway spending is the reality of this power grab. If the Republicans want, they can add some ominous hypotheticals to this reality. For instance, how long before a labor friendly administration decides WalMart is too big to fail and takes it over, installs new management, and forces unionization. Think it can't happen. Well, like I alluded earlier, the government is now taking up legislation to determine all payouts to all employees at any company that takes, or has taken, government money. Money, power, and control all go together. The Democrats have decided to increase all three exponentially, and they have given the Republicans quite a scary story to tell come November 2010.


Anonymous said...

Wasn't Plato the one who said that quote about absolute power?

Its a compelling story for the Republicans, but frankly, they still have to convince me they wouldn't massively overspend, either.

Cutting $60 billion in spending and then cutting taxes by $100 billion and increasing defense spending by $50 billion isn't my idea of fiscal responsibility.

The last cause said...

The best way to approach this is by keeping a simple narrative, for better or worse, the Bush years saw Conservatism lose intellectual ground to the left.

The Dems enjoyed the ability to attack Conservatism, while there was no counter narrative of Higher taxation or lost opportunities to the 50k a year, college educated demographic.

Make it clear, Obama is spending their money and opportunites and do so simply.

Theoriticals crash on the shore of lower incomes and higher taxes.

Anonymous said...

It depends on what taxes are cut. If capital gains taxes are cut or eliminated, then there would be a massive influx of private investment which grows the economy and creates new taxable income. So this is a "tax cut" that generates more revenue for the government, not less.

But the government has already bankrupted itself anyways. There is nothing to do but sit back and watch the slow motion collapse of the federal government, and many state governments such as California and New York. Putting Republicans back in charge won't stop this, but they are at least less likely to turn the US into the Soviet Union as it happens.

Anonymous said...

I find that odd. If I had stock I had been holding on to long enough to qualify for being taxed at the lower capital gains rate, I'd sell it off immediately to take advantage of the lower tax rate. How would lowering the capital gains tax not lead to a selloff by people looking to take advantage of the lower tax rate before it goes back up again?

Anonymous said...

The wealthiest 1% had their fun in the Bush 43 years, 8 years of the Taxcutasaurus that magical creature that turned surplus into deficit all the while the rest of the 99% got soaked with trillions in debt.

How awful it is that Obama would like to narrow the economic gap and raise some people out of poverty.

How awful it is that Obama wants to help insure the 40 million, many of them under the age of 18 so they have medical care.

How awful it is that Obama wants to make America a leader in alternative engery sources, which would free us of foreign oil slavery AND make us once again the engineers of tomorrow for new technology (and create jobs in the process).

Yes, Obama wants to level..he wants to level with the American people on the seriousness of our problems and the hard work that lies ahead to reconstruct, rebuild, and renew America.

Sam said...

Quite simply, Mike, Obama seeks to restore a once successful system in which the success of society is measured by its breadth and not the 'master of the universe' class.

This system does not "soak" the rich as has been claimed by other conservative commentators. Far from it. Taxes remain modest. It does help business. GM, for one, has pointed to the horrid inefficiencies in health care as a key part of its cost structure challenges.

Republicans miss the point when it comes to cap and trade. Climate change is a problem. While scientists who study this as their life's work are virtually unanimous on this point, a few journalists who dabble in this seem to feel their expertise is superior.

This society has not been well served by those Arianna Huffington so accurately described as "Pigs at the Trough". The CEO's that took fortunes while destroying not just the social contract, but much of the society. They are robber barons without Andrew Carnegie's charitable side.

Obama gets that greed is part of human nature and you can't legislate greed. But you can insure that there is a balance of power between those who place greed above all and those that earn their daily bread. Far more often than not, it is those that start life with families that earn their daily bread who become the best innovators and leaders of the following generation.

To make sure they have health care and the opportunity for college, that investment will have the largest payback of anything the government could possibly undertake.

Perhaps one day you'll get it, Mike, but I'm not holding my breath.

Anonymous said...

I think the GOP need to return to Reagan principles.

At the age of 245, it was discovered that Reagan had been suffering from Alzheimer's the entire time!

After a few more years of acting exactly the same as he had throughout his presidency, Ronald Reagan died of pneumonia after shoveling mashed potatoes into his trachea and letting them stew in his lungs like some horrible crockpot.

His image was instantly bigger than Jesus in the GOP's circle. The entire party had by then adapted all of Reagan's policies as their own, but now they had a martyr that blew anything Al Queada (aka. The brave Mujahadeen) could make right out of the water.

Just a reminder: There is a major political party in America that bases it's policy around the ramblings of a mentally retarded man.