Applied Relative Demonology as it pertains to the Speaker of the House...

Applied Relative Demonology as it pertains to the Speaker of the House in 2006, 2010 and 2014 mid-term elections. – or – I see orange people.


The single most dramatic change in the complexion of our government emerging from the midterm election is the impending leadership change in the House of Representatives. Republican John Boehner will be replacing Nancy Pelosi as Speaker of the House. He will be seated next to Joe Biden behind President Obama for the State of the Union Address in early 2011. You may want to take some time now to adjust the tint and color intensity on your hi-def flat screen.

Daily Caller:

History will be made when Boehner becomes first orange-American Speaker of the House

“In January, America will pass another milestone on the road to full equality when Ohio Republican Rep. John Boehner becomes the first orange-American Speaker of the House.Boehner’s unique skin has made him a target of liberal mockery, and talk of his tan has often eclipsed discussion of what he actually says or does. Even President Obama has gotten in on the fun, joking at the 2009 White House Correspondence Dinner that he and Boehner “have a lot in common. He is a person of color—although not a color that appears in the natural world.”

Cartoonists, columnists, bloggers, pundits, and humorists get in on the fun, including Olivia Munn’s election report on the Daily Show (at the 4:00 minute mark):

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
Indecision 2010 – Maybe We Can’t – Election Results
Daily Show Full Episodes Political Humor Rally to Restore Sanity

I don’t want to fall into the trap flagged by the Daily Caller and lose sight of the content while caught up in the novelty of our first Orange Speaker of the House. In terms of the meaning of the election and the role John Boehner will play, I cannot say it any better than Jonathan Rauch on the pages of the New York Times:

Divided We Thrive – Jonathan Rauch

A GRAND victory for Republicans in the 2010 midterm election? Yes, of course. But also no. In all three of the most recent earthshaking midterm elections — 1994, 2006 and now 2010 — the same candidate won: divided government. That is not a coincidence. In the last two decades, a strong and persistent pattern has emerged, one that will dominate our politics for some time to come, because it is rooted in two important political realities. First, the public strongly prefers divided government. Second, it has every reason to…

But divided government, in today’s world of ideologically polarized parties, is the only way of attaining sustainable bipartisanship. And that is likely to remain the case for the foreseeable future. By promising to transcend partisanship in an all-Democratic government, President Obama, in 2008, promised something he had no prayer of delivering. Paradoxically, the three words that will do the most to help him deliver on his broken promise of bipartisanship — and, indeed, that offer him the best hope of governing from the center, broadening his support and stabilizing his presidency — are these: Speaker John Boehner.”

Two Speakers, one coming in, one going out, characterized differently in the press. MSM reporting on one focusing on a reputation for toughness, ideological inflexibility and hardball partisan politics. MSM reporting for the other focusing on appearance and a penchant for emotional outbursts. I cannot help but wonder how the public and media would perceive the two if these reported characteristics were reversed. Would Nancy Pelosi get the same media treatment if she had a reputation for weeping on camera?

It is interesting to speculate how John Boehner will be covered by the media during the midterms four years hence. Perhaps a hint can be seen by recalling how Speaker Pelosi was perceived when she won the gavel four years ago.

First, a tip of the hat to a couple of regular Donk commenters – Cranky Critter for introducing me to a field of study I had heretofore been unaware of – Comparative Political Demonology™ – a phrase coined and defined by Tully some years ago. This subject is bit too broad for me, so I will focus here on a more specialized subset – Applied Relative Demonology as it pertains to the Speaker of the House in 2006, 2010 and 2014 mid-term elections. There may be a PHD thesis in there somewhere.

A great deal of electrons and ink are being spilled over the role Nancy Pelosi played in the 2010 election outcome and the political wisdom of her continuing to lead the Democrats in the House of Representatives as minority leader. She was demonized by Republicans as a San Francisco liberal steamrolling a progressive agenda over the objections of our center-right country. Indeed, as it turns out, being a reliable vote in the House of Representatives for Nancy Pelosi was a career limiting move for many Democratic Representatives. Pundits on the right and left inform conventional wisdom that she is a political poison of such devastating toxicity that her leadership of the minority Democrats would virtually guarantee Republican victories in 2012 and 2014. Color me unconvinced.

It is not like Nancy Pelosi has changed her politics since 2006. She was hardly an unknown quantity after serving 19 years in the House as representative and minority leader, and was not perceived politically any differently in 2006 by the electorate than she is today. She was demonized by Republicans in 2006 as a San Francisco liberal, yet that did not stop voters from sweeping Republicans from the majority and installing her as the first woman Speaker of the House, complete with her “San Francisco Values” baggage:

2006 SNL skit

There were some differences between then and now. There was a Republican President, and the Democrats had a much bigger target to demonize in 2006. A Liberal Speaker of the House steeped in San Francisco Values does not sound so bad when the alternative is a corrupt political hack that “would not meet the moral standards of one of the most corrupt 1906 political participants of the most corrupt political organization in the history of the United States.” Hence “Relative Demonology”. After serving as Speaker of the House for two years, voters increased the Democratic majority in the House in 2008, dealing Pelosi an even stronger hand as Speaker. She didn’t change, but in 2006 and 2008, the Republican demons were worse.

For many Americans, John Boehner is more of an unknown today than Nancy Pelosi was in 2006. They know he is politically conservative, cries on camera, and is orange. That’s about it. What we will learn about him in his role as Speaker, how he will be perceived by the electorate in 2012 and 2014, and who is elected President in 2012 will be bigger factors in those elections than whether or not Nancy Pelosi continues to lead the Democrats in the House. Today, Boehner gets the benefit of the doubt from the electorate. Under the more intense and extended media scrutiny in his new role, the weeping everyman shtick could wear thin and even raise doubts about his fitness to lead.

Pelosi was widely credited with Democrats winning the House in 2006. She was an effective Speaker in 2007-8 when acting to restore some balance with a Republican administration. She was an even more effective speaker in driving the Democratic agenda set by the Obama administration through the House of Representatives in 2008-10.

If Democrats want effective, competent leadership in Congress, they should stick with Pelosi. We won’t see her crying on the floor of the House, and by 2014, an orange hued basket case weeping over tax cuts may very well be perceived as the relatively greater demon.

Cross posted from “Divided We Stand United We Fall”

  • kranky kritter

    I view the whole “liberal agenda steamrolled through congress” meme as a bit of a canard. Liberals would have done so if they could have, and then we’d have things like cap and trade, and card check. And we’d have expansive singe-payer universal healthcare.

    But the whole of the democratic party is not liberal. It has plenty of moderate and conservative members, maligned as blue dogs. If you’re not on the partisan right, such folks were recognizable for positions that were decidedly not liberal.

    These blue dogs are the ones mostly responsible for stopping those really liberal policies mentioned above from ever being seriously considered in congress. For right or wrong.

    The end result has been that President Obama consumed all of his political capital to pass healthcare reform which represents a substantial improvement in access for many lower income folks. And which has not in any realistic sense addressed the issue of current high cost and its unsustainable growth.

    What’s Boehner going to do? Divided government provides the optimal environment for blame dispersion when difficult unpleasant choices must be made. But the most radical members of the coalition which brought the GOP into power are insisting on a hard line against tax increases. That makes it very difficult for the GOP to get onboard even a compromise where budget cuts outnumber revenue increases by say 3 to 1. The people’s lips have been, ahem, read.

    So what holds GOP feet to the fire? Only an emergent opinion from the public that when faced with the kinds of cuts necessary to balance the budget without tax increases, maybe it would be OK to gore a few select oxen. It’s likely that if anything happens, an increase to the SS cap will be on the table, but that the mortgage interest deduction will be off.

    That’s if anything actually happens. I’m agnostic on divided government. I agree that it favorably curbs rash actions lacking broad consensus. But there’s no intrinsic guarantee that it will lead to compromise and action on crucial issues. Especially when we see that 23 of the 33 senate seats up for 2012 re-election are democratic. There’s at least a 50-50 chance the GOP opts for the strategy of holding the line until reinforcements arrive. We’re talking about scorched earth here.

    Only a “pox on both houses” vibe to support independents in 2012 can really head that off. We’ll know by spring or summer whether that is shaping up.

  • mw

    “I view the whole “liberal agenda steamrolled through congress” meme as a bit of a canard.” – kk

    I don’t disagree. She did what a Speaker of the House is supposed to do when leading a big majority. It is more fair to say that she steamrolled a Democratic agenda, starting with the stimulus porkfest funneling billions to Dem districts. I actually think the stimulus was more damaging to Obama than Healthcare Reform. So much of what he promised went up in smoke with this first major legislation, that was primarily authored by Pelosi and the Dems in the House. Promises of transparency, bi-partisanship (“We won.”), fiscal responsibility, legislating responsibly (allowing time for bills to be read), moderation (biggest spending bill in history), were all violated right off the bat. Within a month of the inauguration we were right back to politics as usual – exactly what he said he would not do. If the Dems had not decided to press their advantage immediately, gone smaller and bipartisan on the stimulus, Obama would have preserved political capital and credibility that would have served him better with HCR.

    “So what holds GOP feet to the fire? Only an emergent opinion from the public that when faced with the kinds of cuts necessary to balance the budget without tax increases, maybe it would be OK to gore a few select oxen.” – kk

    I think you answered your own question. If there is anything for the GOP to learn from the Tea Party influence in the mid-terms, it is that they better be able to point to spending cuts by 2012. A few gored ox can only help.

    “I’m agnostic on divided government. I agree that it favorably curbs rash actions lacking broad consensus.” – kk

    Given what transpired in the last two years, that is good enough for me. As I’ve said before – divided government is not a panacea. It is just demonstrably and unequivocally better than one party rule.

  • Tully

    Here’s one of several tools for taking your own whack at solving the budget/deficit problem. While it certainly lacks nuance (and in an NYT way) it’s instructive.

    I seem to have produced a surplus for 2015, but wasn’t mean enough to on SS and Medicare to elminate the 2030 problem. But strong economic growth could sure solve a lot of problems, which a static model like this doesn’t account for.

  • Jim Satterfield

    I just don’t buy into the age increases for SS and Medicare because while you may not be able to prove it in court age discrimination against employees is epidemic, especially if you have any health problems.

  • Tully

    I had that problem with it too, Jim. Simply raising eligibility age begs the unintended consequence of older people suddenly being out of a job and unable to get another one, and finding SS even farther away. Without Medicare as a backstop, that burger-flipping-job stopgap sure pales in appeal. We already HAVE this problem thanks to age discrimination, and we want to make it worse?

    The choices offered in the NYT tool are pretty limited. I’d like to see projections on means-testing of SS and Medicare for the more affluent, for example. SS was supposed to address poverty among the elderly, yet millionaires still get their checks. There’s a high-income penalty on Medicare premiums, but the penalty amount is miniscule compared to the cost of the overall coverage provided. Why shouldn’t Warren Buffet pay the whole cost of a single Medicare premium in exchange for the flat-rate group-coverage guaranteed-issue thing? It’s not like he needs the subsidy, which comes out of the pockets of the working masses. (Pardon the classist verbiage…)

    And if means-testing means that the affluent use up their post-retirement resources faster, well, when they get low enough SS/Medicare will still be there for them and can kick right in at the levels they earned. But I don’t see why working people should pay more taxes so that millionaires can get checks they don’t need and medical-coverage subsidies they could well afford to buy themselves.

  • kranky kritter

    And if means-testing means that the affluent use up their post-retirement resources faster, well, when they get low enough SS/Medicare will still be there for them and can kick right in at the levels they earned. But I don’t see why working people should pay more taxes so that millionaires can get checks they don’t need and medical-coverage subsidies they could well afford to buy themselves.

    Not quite what I expected to hear from you Tully. I largely agree. I don’t support things like raising the eligibility age because I want to, but because of my impression that they’ll need to be on the table as part of the solution. I support things like raising or eliminating the income cap on SS taxes, but I don’t know whether there are, as you like to put it, enough rich people to eat, as it were.

    I think means testing on some sort of sliding scale is a sensible thing to look at. Whether its politically tenable is a big question, too.

    As you two point out, the issue of older Americans without jobs but not yet eligible for SS needs to be faced. One thing we could conceivably do is to make folks eligible for medicare at an earlier age than they can collect SS. And then there is the current system of allowing people to opt in at an earlier age for smaller monthly payouts. That might be a decent place to start with means testing. Perhaps folks most well off would be ineligible to begin collecting until they reach full age. I think the break even on that is at around age 80… .

  • Wickedways

    The interesting aspect of our budget problem is entirely the responsibility of the current GOP leaders who are going to take office.

    The real runaway train is what CBO calls a “substantial increase in spending” that is “on an unsustainable path.”

    Spending increases from 2001-2008. Source Wall Street Journal.

    Community Development increased 91%
    Highways and Mass Transit increased 22%
    Education Increased 57%
    Veterans Benefits Increased 58%
    Medicare Increased 51%
    National Defense Increased 64%
    Social Security increased 17%

    Now we are asking the same GOP elite who spent us into the poor house to now be in charge of cutting spending and attempting to reduce the deficit.

    Taxes? If we taxed the 50 percent of Americans who pay ZERO taxes….if we stopped paying Americans to have babies……If we let the tax cuts on the rich expire……We would see some increase in revenue.

    If we cut spending. Cut the Military by 20 percent back to 500 billion from 620 billion we could see some progress.

    If we cut the salaries of Federal employees by 5 percent a year for 5 years they would still be making way more then their private counterparts.

    But alas….none of this will happen. Its too painful. The gop will scream that the democrats are at fault and the Democrats will scream its the gops fault and we will have another bloodbath at the polls in 2012.

    This time the Democrats will be smiling….all the way to the poor house.

  • Tully

    Not quite what I expected to hear from you Tully.

    Don’t know why not. I’m not against SS/Medicare as a concept. The programs were begun for specific purposes, and can serve those purposes much better (certainly on a more fiscally sound basis) if means-tested. From Wiki*, bolding mine:

    The Social Security Act was drafted during Roosevelt’s first term by the President’s Committee on Economic Security, under Frances Perkins, and passed by Congress as part of the New Deal. The act was an attempt to limit what were seen as dangers in the modern American life, including old age, poverty, unemployment, and the burdens of widows and fatherless children. By signing this act on August 14, 1935, President Roosevelt became the first president to advocate the protection of the elderly.

    The affluent don’t need the “protection,” but get it anyway. I know a retiree with an annual retirement income of over $250K/yr from investment and savings, who chortles about getting that check every month. (OK, direct deposit). He doesn’t need any “protection” from SS, much less a max-benefit payment. Not while his assets hold out he sure doesn’t, and he’s unlikely to lose them. If he does, if his income comes down into middle-class range, then SS can still be there for him. But right now he doesn’t need it, yet still gets a few thousand dollars a month, courtesy of folks busting their asses to make less annually than he gets in cash benefits .

    Likewise Medicare. It was begun to assure that seniors and certain other people continued to have access to health care through insurance. My acquaintance can certainly afford to pay a full non-subsidized Medicare premium without any financial pain. Why should people making $25K/yr subsidize that premium for him? The important parts that protect him are the flat rate and guaranteed acceptance.

    [*–Hey, they’re not wrong all the time.]

  • Jim Satterfield

    I’m really a radical in some ways. I wonder whether or not it would really produce hyperinflation if the Fed “printed” enough money just to cover certain programs that don’t really bend the overall demand curve such as programs to help the poor make ends meet such as food stamps and an expanded Medicaid/Medicare. Is anything really wrong with providing or subsidizing certain categories of jobs if the private sector just isn’t doing it? I think there is a very good chance that our current level of unemployment/underemployment is largely structural, not cyclical and that we need to face it honestly instead of engaging in name calling and demonization.

  • kranky kritter

    Tully, really only because of how often you’ve suggested that there aren’t enough rich people to eat. :-)

    I hear so many things from so many people over the years that it can be hard to remember everything that one person has said. Maybe you’ve ranted about “income redistribution” before, maybe not.

    I do know that you’re never enough of a true believer about anything to insist that it must be carried even to absurd or undesirable conclusions. So, for example, in theory a sane decent thoughtful person (like you) could rant about income redistribution on one day and still support social security as a concept…for the simple reason that they see the reality of their country as it is and won’t accept working class Americans being poor and destitute when they get old.

    Unfortunately, as we both know, many people do have a tendency to lose suppleness of mind over time. If they ever even had it. Complain about income redistribution enough times and it starts to feel like some sort of godhead, an idiosyncratic bastardization of an ideal that’s ultimately self-serving first.

  • kranky kritter

    Wicked, give me a break. It’s not a partisan issue unless you’re a partisan. Most of the medicare and SS increases, which account for most of the extra dollars, were not discretionary. I’ll give you the war spending. [_and, I’ll give you the prescription drug plan if you’ll admit that old people need it and that the democrats would have passedsomething just as expensive, if not as generous to drug companies

    Most of the extra dollars added to the deficit have come from the last Bush budget and first 2 Obama budgets. No sane person who does the research can credibly deny this.

    So save the “this was all the GOP’s fault and they can’t be trusted” rant for the folks who are stupid enough to buy it and the partisans unscrupulous enough to sell it instead of the full picture.

    You either believe the deficit is a problem we must address with all deliberate speed, or you don’t. If you do believe it must be addressed, then you support the folks who agree it’s a problem and show signals that they are willing to try to address it.

    Americans have CERTAINLY not made this choice because they think Republicans are particularly trustworthy. They chose Republicans over the Democrats’ constantly changing story that shifts among a series of half truths:

    • the deficit is all the Republicans fault
    •democrats are the real party of fiscal responsibility
    • the deficit isn’t really even a problem
    •ok, it’s a problem, but one we can’t afford to address without crashing the economy
    • we can print as much money as we want because the dollars a sovereign currency or its the global reserve currency

    Democrats can’t even get their story straight. You should know me to be an equal opportunity basher of both parties if you’ve ever paid attention. One thing I know is that when a debater keeps changing arguments to see which one might stick, it’s because they lack any really good plausible argument to stick to.

    Bottom line? The republicans are the worst possible choice of all parties to address the deficit. Except for democrats.

  • Wickedways


    Facts speak for themselves.

    I presented the spending numbers.

    All spending Originates with the House. Who controllled the House from 1995-2007? Why that would be the GOP. Who controlled the senate from 1995-2007?

    Now I……as a Registered Republican and A fiscal conservative as well as a social conservative who has a really hard time voting for Democrats….but do on the state and local level….have no problems pointing my finger at the party that was in charge.

    We just did it in 2010. We pointed our fingers at the Democrats for their sad work in 2008-2010 and threw the bums out. The problem is that we are handing the keys to the GOP which has been just as guilty when it comes to not addressing Social security shortfalls, spending, budget deficits, wars in foreign countries and a myraid of other economic problems.

    The GOP’s solution for everything…….CUT TAXES……puhleaze. Reagan cut taxes from 70 PERCENT…SEVENTY to 28 percent. That was huge…It certainly jump started the economy big time. Now were talking about a couple percent as if its an earth shattering amount that will CURE ALL OUR AILMENTS.

    I as a bonafide Tea party member who has marched in streets and done interviews and felt the pulse of the Tea party members have one thing in common with the rest of the tea party members.

    We do not care who we are mad at. We are just plain mad at the runaway spending and inability of either party to get things under control. You hear it said and I can testify to the truth….every rally I attended was full of not only Republicans but Democrats as well.

    You obviously show your total lack of comprehension for what the Tea party really stands for as does the GOP establishment who rode its wave of anger to power and are now promptly installing good ole boy party establishment rules and members in power so they can continue on with business as usual.

    The tea party is here to stay and will only gain power. Not lose power in the years to come until we get this outrageous spending under control that BOTH parties have grown accustomed to abusing for decades.

    No more. No Mas….thats my story. I dont change my story. I am an equal opportunity blamer. Both parties are equally guilty of displaying fiscal insanity in the last 3 decades.

    NO MAS.

  • Wickedways

    Let me try to give you all a sense for what was going on in the crowds of the 23 marches and rallies I attended in the last year.

    Taxes. Most of the people in the crowd were not interested in the expiring tax cuts that were about to happen in 2011. You know the Bush Tax cuts. Yes it was a concern but not the focus that the Democrats have tried to make it out to be.

    Taxes were going up. The health care bill was going to force us to raise taxes. Everyone believed that. True or not….everyone believed it in the crowds. Obama care was going to raise prices on just about everything as employees had to pay higher premiums for health care. This is and was a tax. Higher prices as the result of an entitlement is the same thing as a tax. General Consensus of the crowds.

    Our local taxes were going up. As the recession crunched local budgets our taxes raised. In a recession home owners saw increases in the property taxes not decreases.

    Many cities raised sales taxes by 1/4-1 penny. Not huge but the recession forced local governments to raise revenue from other sources.

    Investopedia explains Stagflation
    Stagflation occurs when the economy isn’t growing but prices are, which is not a good situation for a country to be in. This happened to a great extent during the 1970s, when world oil prices rose dramatically, fueling sharp inflation in developed countries. For these countries, including the U.S., stagnation increased the inflationary effects.

    This cuts our spending power. Essentially the same thing as raising taxes. The crowds were angry about rising prices, high unemployment, massive new entitlement programs that promised to rise prices thus cutting into our purchasing power while our wages remained soft.

    In addition do not forget that last year Social Security receipients got NO increase nor are they getting one this year. There were a substantial amount of seniors in these crowds. In fact they comprised about 35 percent of nearly every crowd.

    No increase and yet we are dealing with Stagflation or expanding prices without the accompanying growth of our income.

    This is the tea party. Yes there was the occassional racist and bigot but you can find that in chruches, synagogues and on the doorstep of heaven.

    The tea party is about taxes but it encompasses a lot more then just the Bush Tax cuts and if the Democrats could ever get over their BDS they would probably join the Tea party movement as a bipartisan effort to restore fiscal sanity to a nation that is sorely lacking such and has been for decades.

  • Wickedways

    Federal Budget FYI 1996…….1.612 trillion dollars.

    Federal Budget FYI 2008…..2.902 Trillion Dollars.

    Thats an increase of 55 percent in the budget in 12 years under the GOP leadership.

    4.6 percent per year. Yet inflation held steady varying from 1.55 percent to a high in 2008 of 3.85 percent since 1995.

    Taking the last 12 years of inflation and adding them up you get an infationary increase of 35.09 percent.

    Had our federal budget increased by just 35.09 percent instead of 55 percent we would have had a budget surplus in each of the last 12 years.

    Taxes are not the issue. What is the issue in America is spending and rising prices. Did you know that the inflation for 2009 is at a NEGATIVE LEVEL.


    Deflationary pressure. Why pray tell is our inflationary or Deflationary pressures non existent in todays recession compared to having a tremendous impact on the previous 3 recessions?

    Examples….Carter…1979 and 1980 inflation numbers were 11.22 and 13.58 percent.

    Reagan in 1981 and 1982 were 10.35 and 6.16 percent.

    The answer can be found in the FED and it is why people are calling on the FED to be audited. But Im pretty sure after the committee that audited the fed and came out from behind those closed doors with ashen white faces and immediately ran to their banks and pulled all their money out and bought gold………We dont want to know what an audit of the fed would uncover.

    But what we do need to do is as a nation to stop demanding Entitlements as if they are FREE…..In an era of humongous government there is nothing that is free and our horrible financial ponzi scheming government is simply hiding our misery behind the book keeping geniuses at the FED who are EXEMPT from being audited.

    Wake up America. Things are not hopeless yet….but they are rolling down hill and picking up steam and if you folks dont want to live in the land of NO opportunity then you will join the Tea Party bandwagon and demand fiscal sanity from our out of control government………..

    Okay……end of rant.

  • theWord

    True or not….everyone believed it in the crowds.

    About sums it up for me. What a great base to build on.

  • Tully

    Tully, really only because of how often you’ve suggested that there aren’t enough rich people to eat. :-)

    Of course there aren’t. And the ones we have are all stringy and full of gristle, and very very nimble at running away from predatory taxation. But you’ve got it backwards here. I’m saying there’s no need to FEED the rich on the public teat meant to protect the less well-situated from poverty. They can do quite well on their own at avoiding poverty without getting any government cheese or using the safety net as a trampoline. And if they fail at avoiding poverty, that teat is still there for them.

    In the example I was using above of the retiree I know, he collects $2300/month or so in SS, the max benefit. He pays no premium for Medicare Part A, and due to his $250k/yr income level (NOT counting his SS) he pays the top rate of $308/month for his Part B. It certainly would not hurt him that much to cough up the $461/month Part A premium, nor to forego his $27K in SS checks. Means-tested savings to taxpayers, $33k/yr .

    (Nor for that matter would a higher annual deductible than the current $155/yr for his Part B bother him much, but that’s a different approach.)

  • kranky kritter

    I believe that the Tea Party has peaked as a political movement of any real meaningful purity. [And bear in mind that I told liberals much the same thing about the Obama progressive wave right after that election. That it had peaked. And was dismissed then just as I’ll be dismissed now.]

    The tea party’s relative lack of a broad consensus on a range of issues suggests to me that they’ll gradually splinter due to a lack of real unanimity. Their zealous views do not represent anywhere near 50% of the people. And in a democracy, that’s what it takes. For better or worse.

    I’m well aware that serious energized tea party members are convinced that the solution to all our problems is no more complicated than smaller government and lower taxes. And I don’t think that any more than 1 in 5 Americans is puritanically committed to that view.

    Some of the rest of us do indeed put some stock in that view. But we’re more committed to solving specific problems that trouble America generally and affect us personally. And we’re not going to be particularly committed to smaller government and lower taxes as a matter of faith. We’re pragmatic, and have build our lives through a series of fractional loaves.

    We don’t see a particular connection from the tea party ideology to the problems of healthcare cost growth, inadequate replacement jobs for the ones we’ve lost to better international competitors, a school system which fails to educate children, and a culture which overpromises and overborrows while underproducing. I may not be in any majority, but I know that I am far from alone when I think that America kids itself that we can blame either big government or big business. Both of them are us. An inconvenient truth.

    The core group of anti-tax anti-government true believers has a story that connects the dots of all those undesirable trends I mentioned to big government and high taxes. In some respects it’s convincing, and in others not so much. Tea Partiers seem certain that continuing to repeat this very simple story is going to convince the rest of America even though they haven’t bought in so far. That strikes me as unlikely.

    Maybe the tea party could succeed in forcing the GOP to make drastic changes like a 10% cut in federal employees, a 5% cut in state aid, and the elimination of many federal contractors. Post 2012 of course.

    After such actions swell unemployment by another 300k to 500k, how many Americans do you think will climb on board the tea party “express?” They’ll be running for the exits.

    Because the first stage of any plan making big cuts to government and taxes will bring excruciating pain to America. True believers will call this short term and acceptable. But anyone who is capable of doing realistic projections on the ripples from such changes knows that the “short term” pain will last 5 or 10 years.

    So lets consider that it took about 18 months of President Obama failing to fix the economy for America to go ruthlessly and selfishly sour on him.

    Don’t mistake me. I’m glad for what the tea party done, But its delusions of grandeur about a revolution making government way smaller and taxes way lower are a pipe dream. You’ve all been smoking a little bit too much liberty crack for my tastes (BTW Donar, I think there’s a cartoon in that. Consult me.)

    Not being a tea party insider, my take is that the next 6 months are going to bring an evolution of broad vague popular dissatisfaction in response to whatever congress does or doesn’t manage to do. And also in response to how each side tries to spin their inability to take substantive action. And in response to whether the struggling recovery dies in the crib.

    Americans don’t want any more rhetoric, hyperbole, and blamestorming. We want congress to STFU and get to work. @sses and elbows is what we want to see.

    I see signs that the so-far feeble recovery may be beginning to find its legs. My biggest worry there is that a strengthening recovery is going to bring other undesirable side affects. If overall economic developments do not cheer Americans, they will direct their ire at the new cast on the congressional stage. And the only tenable way to do so will be via a “pox on both houses” movement.

    THAT will be the time when moderate, sensible, independent leaders can come to the fore. Without grand rhetorical visions, but with small sensible solutions to little bits of the problems we face. And with a willingness to work together with other such folks to make baby steps towards useful, substantive changes.

    In the meantime, I have a request of the folks who are sure that smaller government and lower taxes will unleash American ingenuity and create great new jobs for Americans. It sounds wonderful, but everything after “unleash ingenuity” seems a bit vague to me. So how about a list of specific areas where you expect this ingenuity to be successfully applied? Where is America going to make these 4 to 6 million jobs? What are the products and services that we’ll generate at a competitive quality and labor cost to that of our thriving international competitors?

    Just asking. Cause it all seems a bit too much like underpants gnomes to me. Step 1, steal underwear, Step 3, profit!

  • kranky kritter

    I’m saying there’s no need to FEED the rich on the public teat meant to protect the less well-situated from poverty. They can do quite well on their own at avoiding poverty without getting any government cheese or using the safety net as a trampoline. And if they fail at avoiding poverty, that teat is still there for them.

    Well, there is the matter of the 13% tax they’ve paid in all those years. If that tax is paid out by rich folks and they get nothing back, does that amount to a much bigger tax on the wealthiest than clicking the top bracket back up 3%?

    Just asking. because if it does, that sorta dents the whole “extend all the tax cuts to spur american ingenuity yadayada line.” Or do you support not extending the Bush tax cuts for the top bracket?

    Just asking there. Given the challenges we face, I have no particular objections to snitching rich folks SS checks when they really wouldn’t miss it. In my minds it’s clearly preferable to making aging working class folks struggle more.

    Politically, where do you think such a cut-off could begin to be phased in? That’s the biggest question. For example, let’ s consider some sort of self-perceived middle class couple. They reach retirement age with a fully paid off house worth say $250, 000. They have set aside $500,000 for retirement in a 401k (let’s say you could draw 35k or 40k or so annually from that for 15 years). They expect to receive lets say $4400 per month in joint SS benefits, planning to supplement that income with another 25-40 thousand in annual draw downs.

    The plan is that they’d be able to live in retirement at a lifestyle level similar to what they had when they worked. Presuming they would probably not live any longer than say 80 or 85.

    How would you touch someone like that? Let me stress that I am not trying to play gotcha.

  • Wickedways

    The solution to the staggering debt problem is relatively simple. However everyone wants to make it amazingly hard and requires a 10 year plan.

    Everything in government always requires a 10 year plan that goes off track the first 6 weeks of the first year.

    We have a 1.4 trillion dollar deficit that we now all suddenly believe must be maintained because the Democrats exploded spending but DID NOT create jobs with the money.

    They simply exploded spending.

    FY 2008 Budget was 2.902 trillion dollars.

    FY 2011 Budget put at 2.902 trillion dollars would simply reduce the budget gap from 1.4 trillion to 402 billion dollars.

    Cato Institute has identified 206 billion dollars in cuts that could be executed with very limited liabilities and you must realize that a 10 percent cut in the military budget would net another 62 billion dollars. We are now roughly staring at a 45 billion dollar short fall and when a business friendly congress begins passing legislation that encourages business to finally start hiring again and paying taxes the end result is a balanced budget.

    The talk is always that it cant happen because……??

    Crikkets….chirp…chirp. It does not take moderates to balance the budget. It does not take baby steps to return to just 2 years ago budget with inflation being just 3.4 percent in the last 2 years combined. It only takes a desire to get it done.

    You are making the same flawed assertions that everyone else is making…..Obama increased each department tremendously and now pretends that cutting them back will end millions of jobs.

    Bs. Its slight of hand and smoking mirrors. Just 3 years ago we had a deficit of 167 billion dollars. Today its 1.3 trillion. Its not rocket science as you seem to suggest.

    As far as your take on progressive. You really need to come out of your ivory tower and look around. Progressives are infiltrating state and local governments all over the country including Progressive states network, funded by George Soros to take over state and local legislatures. 2010 is but a bump in the road of a movement that has been going on since Teddy Roosevelt and is not defeated because of one mid term election.

  • blackout

    @Kranky: But the whole of the democratic party is not liberal. It has plenty of moderate and conservative members, maligned as blue dogs.

    Correction: had. lol

  • blackout

    @Kranky: anyone who is capable of doing realistic projections on the ripples from such changes knows that the “short term” pain will last 5 or 10 years.

    Exactly. Politicians are much better at this math than the Tea Party. At the risk of sounding like I’m defending Washington, there’s a method to their madness, and re-election isn’t their sole motive. Some of them actually worry about the effects of TP-style austerity on their constituencies.