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Thursday, March 26, 2009

The Republican's Budget Gambit

President Obama may live very much to regret putting down the budget guantlet to the Republicans at his presser on Tuesday. That night he mocked his opponents as criticizers with no plan of their own. Not two days later, the Republicans have rolled out a plan of their own. The reality is that very few people are likely to read in detail either plan. Even fewer will understand the details of either. (to be fair the Republican's plan is signficantly less detailed, however that is likely not to matter) In fact, unfortunately, politically speaking, the details are not altogether important. What is important is that 1) both sides now have a plan to call their own, and 2) the general direction of both plans.

Doing this is of course, first and foremost, all part of being a policy maker. Politically, it is a brilliant move. Almost none, if none at all, of this plan will be adopted. Yet, it is now out there in the hypothetical. Hypothetical plans are the best kind of plans politically. That's because you can make of them what you want. The Republicans can proclaim over and over that their plan would have created just as many jobs at much less cost. How can anyone argue? After all, the plan never went into effect and so all their assumptions are hypothetical.

The public has been taken aback by the enormous amount of spending by the president so far. This plan is the antithesis of that. This plan relies on freezing and slowing down government spending as well as tax cuts. The Republicans have capitalized on the country's reluctance to watch the deficit balloon and presented an alternative that shrinks the deficit rather than growing it.

There will be plenty of folks that will scream hypocrisy because the Republicans presided over massive expansion of both debt and government from 2001-2007. Those arguments have become ones of diminishing returns and as times goes by, they will become arguments of even less returns. By presenting this budget proposal, the Republicans have positioned themselves beautifully for 2010. They are now in a position to first blunt the argument that they have no ideas. Second, they can continue to refer to this budget as they slam the out of control deficits the one that Obama will sign will cause. The mood in the country is away from massive deficits, and the Republicans have positioned themselves to take advantage of that mood.


Anonymous said...

In the context of the 2008 election, I see this as the Democrats successfully luring the Republicans into exposing themselves as having learned nothing from the that election. After all the flak Obama has been taking, he was able to get the Republicans to remind America that the only ideas they have are the same ones Americans voted out of office in 2008.

mike volpe said...

Americans voted Republicans out of office because they ran up massive deficits not because they were fiscally responsible. Your comment is totally ridiculous.

The budget they have proposed is the antithesis of the way they governed for six years.

Anonymous said...

All I saw in this alternative budget was the same proposal to cut the top tax rate from 35% to 25% they proposed as an alternative to the stimulus about a month ago.

Republicans love to cut taxes (or should i say, gut taxes), but I have seen no reason to believe the
Republicans are prepared to cut spending in a way the American people actually want.

So its just like I said, the Republicans have essentially decided to remind Americans that they still believe the solution to everything is to cut taxes.

Freeing up money for investment is all fine and wonderful, but there's nothing to invest in right now. Besides, whose going to borrow from the private sector when the Fed and the Treasury are practically giving it away for free?

mike volpe said...

Well, I have debated long enough to spot major BS and there is all sorts of major bs.

First, we need a little history lesson for you. Up until the beginning of the 1900's, there was no income tax. Zero. That's how much was taxed of your income. It is an abomination to everything our country was founded on that the government takes one third of your income for itself. So, anyone that makes it more like one quarter is not going to be someone the public rejects. No one likes to pay taxes so someone that makes the tax less will be in favor.

Second, here is a great example of you being full of it, likely knowing it, but trying to make it seem as though you do know what you are talking about,

"I have seen no reason to believe the
Republicans are prepared to cut spending in a way the American people actually want."

What? Since when do you speak for the American people, furthermore, what exactly are spending cuts they want? The reality is that we have a bloated government full of nonsense and almost all cuts would be ones the people would generally like, however politicians have learned that they can use the government to buy votes and that is one of the main reasons that taxes are so high because they are used for a mountain of government programs to essentially buy votes. So, I would say, for the most part,any cut in government spending is one the folks would support.

Next, the document is almost twenty pages. Are you really saying that all that is in there is the tax cuts? Are you really saying this?

Finally, there are plenty of opportunities for investment now. For astute investors, the best time is when things have dropped. Real estate is much cheaper now. There are tons of foreclosed properties to buy cheaply. Imagine if you have enough money to start a bank with all other banks failing. What a great time to start a new bank. there are tons of investment opportunities now.

Anonymous said...

Of course the Republicans should have a alternative budget.

You applaud this as a great move.

I think your standards have slipped.

[we are not living pre-1900s anymore]

Times have changed. Perhaps this reflects how out of touch you are.

mike volpe said...

They have an alternative budget. What's your problem?

I know we aren't living in the pre 1900's however your implication is that times have changed and we need more tax money. Nonsense. Times have changed and politicians have figured out how to buy more votes, and that's why we have an income tax.

Anonymous said...

Your idea of debating sounds a lot like talking down to people. You have no more evidence that Americans want major government spending cuts then you think I do that they fear the prospect of yet another cut in the top marginal tax rate.

I never said I speak for America, but that doesn't mean I haven't seen things that give me reason to believe that the party and ideology that just lost the White house and both houses of Congress is going to resurrect itself by moving farther to the right.

You on the other hand, seem to have no problem speaking for America with all your rhetoric about America being an inherently right-wing country founded for and by conservatives. I remember making an observation about the way the right tends to use those arguments to make themselves synonymous with America. The only difference is I also noticed a tendency in the right to believe that everybody else lives in this country at their discretion.

So now let me cut through the BS you seem to think I'm full of. You responded to my first observation with what sounded like the belief that the Republicans lost the election because they weren't conservative enough. So tell me, which Republican do you think could have beaten Obama? Do not limit yourself to the candidates from the Republican primary.

mike volpe said...

Let me answer your last question first, Mike Huckabee, and in fact, I wrote a piece about this subject.

I won't find the polling but there was plenty of it saying that conservatives turned on Republicans in 2006 because of too much spending. There was lots of it around. Most conservatives feel as though Republicans sold out their princples to earmarks and other big government corrupting influences.

The proof that Americans don't want big government comes in the resistance that Obama's plans are running into. He hasn't even had a hundred days and he is meeting the kind of resistance that a president in his last two years runs into.

Anonymous said...

I can see how you think Huckabee's likeability and consistently populist message could have won enough independent voters to defeat Obama, but at the same time I see two major caveats.

1. Do you honestly believe that Huckabee, a man who sparred openly with the Club for Growth, was going to call Obama out on his tax policy?

2. If I recall correctly, Huckabee's support for the FairTax was interpreted as him being in favor of a national sales tax. Wasn't that one of the things that crushed his candidacy?

mike volpe said...

He was going to call Obama out for supporting the bailout. I don't know what CFG have to do with anything and why they are suddenly important. Of course, Huckabee would have called out Obama's tax policies. They were totally misleading. He said 95% of people would get tax cuts even though almost 40% of the same people don't pay taxes. Huckabee is a far superior debater than is McCain and he would held up much better in any debate against.

Huckabee lost because he came out of nowhere and those sorts of candidacies are difficult to take all the way. The fair tax catapulted his candidacy not stunted it.

It is a national sales tax and it also eliminated all income taxes and with it the IRS. Had Huckabee put his fair tax up against Obama's complicated scheme, I think he would have won the debate.

Anonymous said...

I like Mr Huckabee a lot. He seems like a genuinely good guy.

I just wonder about the rationality of a man who appers to be a fundamentalist Christian. The same goes for Romney believing in the Mormon cult.

I cant get past these.

I think this may reflect poorly on his judgement.

Anonymous said...


Just wondering.

Have you ever been on a thread on your site where you admitted you were wrong?


mike volpe said...

What kind of a question is that? If I thought I was wrong, I would take the position that I thought was right. I don't know what point you are trying to make.

As for Huckabee, that's just nonsense. I don't know what fundamentalist means, but all you are trying to do is demonize Huckabee with extremist labels.

Anonymous said...

The Republican 10point plan for saving the economy.

1. TALK A LOT ABOUT FISCAL RESPONSIBILITY. We all know that marketed perceptions are more important than actual realities, and nowhere more so than in this domain. Forget about what anyone actually does. Just remember that the Democrats are always "tax-and-spend liberals", and the GOP is the "party of fiscal responsibility". Say it over and over. Pretty soon you’ll even believe it, and others will too.

2. DEIFY RONALD REAGAN, IN ALL WAYS, ALL THE TIME. Never miss a chance to remind people of the wonderful powers and accomplishments of Reagan, from ending the Cold War to curing polio and walking on water. If anyone thinks those are some dubious claims, or mentions the one or two boo-boos of the Reagan years, give them that special Moonie stare of the true believer, dismiss them as part of the Looney Left, and walk away to where your consciousness remains safely protected from any challenging thoughts.

3. PRACTICE VOODOO ECONOMICS. If you run for president, do what Reagan did. Promise that you’ll slash taxes, spend way more on the military, and balance the budget – all at the same time. If you get elected, do what Reagan did again. Triple the national debt. Because your campaign promises are physically impossible. Oops.

4. PRACTICE VOODOO ECONOMICS AGAIN. (S)elect George W. Bush as president, and repeat Reagan’s amazing accomplishment, this time on steroids. Take the largest surplus in American history and turn it into the largest deficit. Take the federal government’s debt, accrued over more than two centuries, and double it from $5 trillion to $11 trillion in just eight years. Spend the money on vital necessities like massive tax cuts for the already fantastically wealthy, and incredibly expensive and disastrous wars against non-enemies.

5. TALK EVEN MORE ABOUT FISCAL RESPONSIBILITY. Wait until a Democratic president comes to office, inheriting the worst American economy since 1932. All of a sudden, relocate your outrage – previously gone on walkabout – at the horrors of deficit spending. Only days after the Bush administration has ended, start talking incessantly about fiscal responsibility, just as if the last eight years had never happened.

6. HAVE ABSOLUTELY NO PLAN FOR ECONOMIC RECOVERY. Whatsoever. Pledge to do precisely what Hoover did in 1932: Absolutely nothing! Let people crash and burn when they lose their jobs and healthcare and homes. Take away the few shreds of a social safety net they have. Don’t even spend stimulus funds for unemployment insurance in your state. Avoid the evils of middle class moral hazard by letting (ordinary) people starve.

7. MAKE A LOT OF NOISE ABOUT EARMARKS. Who cares if they’re less than one percent of the budget?? They have lots of marketing value and can help disable the Democratic government while diverting attention from all the great fiscal and economic achievements of the past eight years.

8. REINVENT HISTORY. Franklin Roosevelt didn’t solve the problem of the Great Depression, but his New Deal program of massive government spending did in fact achieve two key things. First, it nearly halved unemployment, cutting it from 25 percent to 15 percent. And, second, it literally kept alive millions of Americans who would have otherwise perished when no other safety net remained. All of this, of course, is a serious problem in 2009, given the desire of the public for the government to resolve the current problem. Solution? Lie like hell, Brother. Tell people that the New Deal had no recovery impact at all, and was a complete waste of money.

9. REINVENT ECONOMICS. Talk about the stimulus package as though it were an ordinary spending bill, loaded with pork barrel waste. Never make the connection between spending, purely for its stimulative effect, and economic recovery. Argue that it was World War II that ended the Depression, not the New Deal, remaining completely oblivious to the fact that both were nothing short of massive government spending programs, exactly what the Democrats are doing with their stimulus legislation today.

10. BLOCK ACTION TO REVIVE THE ECONOMY. Even though you haven’t got one of your own, carp incessantly about everything that is wrong – real or imagined – with the Democrats’ recovery plans. Even though the public has repudiated you in two successive elections and you are the minority in both the House and the Senate, use every tool possible to block action of any sort by the government elected by the people to solve the crisis. Watch as the middle class is eviscerated. No worries.