Political Ragnarök, or, Obama’s Boldly-Played Budget Battle Bet-The-Ranch Blowout

Newt Gingrich led the GOP to a massive victory in the 1994 elections.

He and Clinton went nose to nose, Clinton won.

The battle was the Federal Government shutdown of late 1995.

I remember it well. The country was outraged by the shutdown, Clinton successfully blamed the Republicans, his popularity went through the roof, Gingrich became a pariah, and the GOP gave up on any reform agenda and went native in DC. It was an unconditional, unmitigated victory for Clinton.

Obama has sent a budget to Congress. Obama’s budget makes no effort whatsoever to cut spending.

Obama is not “failing to lead” as some people are claiming. That is all wrong.

All suggestions to that effect are all wrong. Obama knows exactly what he is doing.

Obama is setting up a confrontation and he plans to win.

Obama is betting that he can force the GOP to make their proposed cuts, which he can blame them for, which he can truthfully say he does not support. Then he can attack the Republicans for making the cuts. He will appeal to the people who are suffering from the cuts, and strip away GOP support. They will be angry and mobilized.

Obama then plans to force the GOP into a funding crisis just as Clinton did. Obama plans to destroy the GOP reform wave of 2011 just as Clinton destroyed the GOP reform effort in 1995.

Obama’s team attempted to use the Tucson massacre in the same fashion that Clinton used the Oklahoma City bombings, to discredit the GOP. Obama is acutely aware of the Clinton playbook. This is another re-run.

If Obama wins, then the GOP / Tea Party effort is over and the Democrats have won the whole ball game. Obama gets reelected, the GOP is finished as a political party, and we have a mess for some number of years while a new party forms. But odds are it will be too late by then. A majority of people will be dependent on the Government.

It is that serious. Obama’s brazen, no-cuts budget proposal is not a sign of weakness.

It is a bold chess move that demands a strong response.

Obama has chosen to make this budget the big confrontation. This is the decisive political moment. Obama is prepping the battlefield.

Will the GOP win, lose, fold, get clobbered and not know what happened? Or will they call Obama out, see him and raise him, and make their case to the American people? Do the American people really care about the fiscal insanity and national bankruptcy? Or will the people who personally lose from the budget cuts have all the energy and outrage? Does the GOP have the courage to push ahead, no matter what?

Lenin said there are decades where nothing happens, then there are weeks where decades happen. We are heading into months where decades are going to happen.

Stay tuned.

UPDATE: Instapundit responds: “It’s not 1995 anymore, though.” Yes. True. I agree. It is better now. But, is it better enough? Boehner is not an eccentric visionary like Gingrich, and I cannot see him and McConnell getting punked by Obama the way Clinton did to Gingrich. Obama is not nearly as good as Clinton. The GOP members are, I think, much wiser and more realistic than the hopeful but ultimately naive class of 1994. The new crew is committed to reform, and they have the example of 1995 in front of them. May they learn the right tactical lessons. Plus, things are just way worse now. There is more at stake.

Interesting times, baby.

UPDATE II: Powerline gets it:

Obama’s game is transparent, isn’t it? He is playing a game of chicken. He puts forward a series of proposals that he knows are more or less insane; but he also believes that Republicans will come to his rescue. They, not being wholly irresponsible, will come up with plans to reform entitlements–like, for example, the Ryan Roadmap. Ultimately, some combination of those plans will be implemented because the alternative is the collapse, not just of the government of the United States, but of the country itself. But Obama thinks the GOP’s reforms will be unpopular, and he will be able to demagogue them, thus having his cake and eating it too. Is that leadership? Of course not. But it is the very essence of Barack Obama.

(Emphasis added.) Yes. That’s it. That’s the trap.

Let’s see the GOP, and the Tea Party, and everyone else who wants this mess really fixed work this problem, avoid the trap, and turn the table on Obama and his allies.

Thinking caps on, team.

UPDATE III: Good pushback in the comments. Message: 1995 =/= 2011. OK. Groovy. So, let’s see a good outcome here. It is doable.

UPDATE IV: Cool: Stanley Kurtz link, mostly agreeing with me. He says my “vision of permanent Republican meltdown is overdrawn.” Maybe so. But I would rather the GOP and the Tea Party overestimate the hazard of the coming confrontation with Obama than not be aware it exists, as seemed to be the case in the initial round of responses to Obama’s budget proposal. Obama’s budget is not a failure of leadership, or a lack of imagination, or something that happened in a fit of absence of mind. It is a deliberate political play, with a goal of creating useful issues for 2012, breaking up and defeating the GOP opposition, reversing 2010, getting reelected, and continuing to expand the power and scope of government. Will it work? I hope not. But if we take it seriously for what it is, the odds of it working are greatly reduced. (I very much want to read Kurtz’s book Radical-in-Chief, but right now the pile of books in front of it is ceiling-high.)

UPDATE V: Good post from Keith Hennessey (via/Instapundit). Hennessey says:

The President is choosing both a policy path and a campaign strategy. He is betting that having no proposal to address the looming fiscal crisis is better for his reelection prospects than having one.

This is exactly right. Hennessey also says:

The President has made his strategic choice: we are headed toward a two year fiscal stalemate in a newly balanced Washington.

But this is wrong. It will not be a stalemate. It will be an open conflict. 1995 was not a stalemate, it was a duel, and Gingrich and the GOP lost. The GOP in 2011 will have to propose cuts, and Obama is going to attack them for each and every one, and blame them for every bit of hardship that any cuts impose on anyone. The President is betting that Mancur Olson is right, and that focused opposition will defeat inchoate and widespread public interest, as usual. Is 2011 “different”? Is it “different” enough? Cue portentious music: On that question turns the fate of our Republic.

55 thoughts on “Political Ragnarök, or, Obama’s Boldly-Played Budget Battle Bet-The-Ranch Blowout”

  1. I think he has mis read the mood, but who knows how it will turn out. What he is doing here is forcing the Rs to gut some of their own constituencies. If they only go after Dem const, they are viewed as partisan, and if they go after Republican waste (Corn subsidies or defense), they lose support from the big R funders.

    I think the Rs should double down and gore everyone’s Ox. This will cement in the Activist vote, appear balanced, and cut spending.

    Of course, we are dealing with the “Stupid Party,” so who knows?

  2. Obama’s team attempted to use the Tucson massacre in the same fashion that Clinton used the Oklahoma City bombings, to discredit the GOP.

    Weak tactic. They used it because it was the best they had. It didn’t work.

    Obama is indeed betting the ranch. Betting the ranch is a sign of desperation. It may work but the odds don’t favor it.

    Obama needs a perfect political storm for his plan to succeed, but that storm already happened in 2008. Now the political wind is against him. His GOP opponents may be bumblers (though I think fewer of them are than was the case before Nov. 2010) but the public is more alert than it was in the past. Blaming Republicans for cutting spending will be less effective now that more of the voting public sees sending per se as the biggest problem.

    Obama is ideologically rigid and reactionary and needs voters to be the same way. But most American voters are pragmatic. Even the ones who aren’t paying close attention and/or want to give Obama a chance will cut him loose if they see him as setting back economic growth. His left/union/black core constituency isn’t enough. I think he is in political trouble no matter what he does, unless the economy rebounds strongly.

  3. “It didn’t work.”

    Yes it did.

    I worked better infinitely than if they hadn’t done it.

    They got some mileage out of it. They set a marker down about “civility” that means you cannot criticize Obama and they are still milking it.

    It worked fine. Not as well as OK City, but it was a freebie for them and they grabbed it and they ran with it.

    “Now the political wind is against him”

    Is it?

    When the GOP has to propose actual cuts, the wind will begin to shift with every dollar cut.

    “… the voting public sees sending per se as the biggest problem”

    So we are told. Do they believe that strongly enough to offset the opposition who are going actually lose money on the cuts? We don’t know yet. Talk is cheap.

    “… he is in political trouble no matter what he does …”

    That is why he is doubling down.

    I understand your case. I am not yet convinced it is right.

  4. I remember 1995. I seem to recall that there was a hue and cry. The crux was typical rule12 hate being directed to Newt because he was upset he got snubbed.

    However, I don’t think that it was as devastating as people remember it. Remember, idiots Perot and Bob Dole managed to give the election to Clinton, GOP gained two seats in Senate and lost 9 in the House. 1996 was hardly a world beating, like 1994 or 2010 or 2006. Also, I seem to recall that Clinton’s immigrant outreach efforts effectively flooded California with a lot of new voters.

    I think we’re getting spinned here.

  5. It’s not about the GOP. They have to go with the flow or be superseded. Public opinion is shifting to favor spending reductions. It is shifting because fiscal reality is shifting. People are realizing that current levels of entitlement spending are unsustainable. Obama is trying to do everything but address this central issue. As long as he avoids supporting real spending cuts he will be in trouble politically.

    Doubling down is a journalistic cliche, but in the real world it’s a mark of desperation because it’s a losing strategy. Eventually you run out of money, in this case our money. Obama may succeed politically but that’s not the way to bet. Also, his extreme recklessness with public money is turning the voting public off.

  6. I agree with Bruno. The only way to smoke ’em out is to cut accross the board. It’s not the smartest way to budget, but it may be the only way if the other side insists on playimg games.

    And that’s what they’re up to. I remember the Democrat strategy on Obamacare: just get something passed, we’ll fix it later. Once the publice gets the benefits, they won’t stand for outright repeal. Clever, cute, and unfortunately, maybe correct.

  7. If the Republicans don’t make serious cuts then what good are they for anyway? If Obama’s strategy works out like he planned (according to Mr. Green) then all the Democrats would have done is kick the can down the road for a few years then they still will have to deal with the even greater austerity measure that will have to be imposed at that time when the government will no longer be able to further borrow. There will be no bailout for us like Greece or Ireland. No one else has the ability to do so (or the will to do so even if they could). 2011 is not 1994. The public understands the debt and very troubled about it indeed. And furthermore it’s in no mood to pay more in taxes for other peoples ‘entitlements’ all the while their pay and benefits are not growing, their retirement not secured and unofficially 18% is out of work. True those who get the cuts will turn out to vote but in a few years even if the Democrats pull it off one more time the ship will still sink in a few years.

    Tehag buying Swiss Franks is a good idea along with other currencies like the Canadian and Australian Dollars. Preserve your capital while you can.

  8. “1996 was hardly a world beating … .”

    It didn’t have to be. The GOP had been domesticated. Serious reform was off the table. The public, maybe, wasn’t ready for it. But the GOP had no stomach to offer any.

    That is the outcome that worries me.

    This is the third Conservative wave. 1980, we got victory in the Cold War and some tax cuts and some cut back on regulation, and a nice morale boost. 1994 we stopped Clinton, but got little positive out of it. This time is the third go-around. If the GOP cannot actually deliver on rollback, the GOP is a spent force. The Ds know what they are about: Permanently expanding government. If the GOP cannot at least, consistently and seriously oppose that, it is of no use to anyone.

  9. I don’t know, the chastised GOP managed to impeach Clinton a few years later.

    Anyway, I hope the new round of GOP leaders are ready for the full spectrum rule 12 hate attacks that will come no matter what they do.

    Also, Obama is boring and lazy. Clinton may have been a bunch of things but he wasn’t boring and lazy. Obama doesn’t have the mojo to really win. What’s he going to do? Go on tv and say “under my plan you can keep the tax cuts you already have”?

  10. Maybe I’m wrong but Gingrich & Clinton’s clear dishonesty got the pot simmering, but 9/11 got it boiling. 2008 was a perfect storm in ways that it might have been difficult to predict but looking back had an inevitability. We aren’t likely, however, to forget what the Great Society brought us in terms of destroyed families, nor are we likely to forget 9/11. I think the various responses to Hassan’s massacre may have some staying power. None of this is about the budget, but much is about softness, apologies for our values, fear for the next generation – and the one after that. It sharpened a lot of people’s attention so that they looked at the budget crisis in a different, a more pro-active, a more worried, and a more generational way.

  11. Just like Obama, Mubarak had absolute control of the media. But the people had the internet. Obama and Mubarak are out and the people will win.

  12. “… the chastised GOP managed to impeach Clinton a few years later.”

    The Clinton impeachment was a pointless, self-inflicted political disaster that did nothing whatsoever about the growth of government. It was a waste of time.

    It was a pathetic display, the flailing of the already defeated.

    “Obama doesn’t have the mojo to really win.”

    Maybe so. He’s no Clinton, that’s for sure.

    Still, if he was ever going to fight for anything, this is his moment.

    And his budget looks like an initial, aggressive, uncompromising move.

    “What’s he going to do?”

    Travel the country talking about the people who will be hurt by GOP budget cuts. Show their faces. Invite them on stage with him. Have them break into tears, and then hug them. Make TV ads showing that the evil GOP wants to put granny out on the street in the cold. Show that the brutal Republicans only want to help the rich. Show TV ads of white men in suits in limousines driving past people standing in the rain looking sullen, and say that is John Boehner’s America. What is going to do? Use your imagination. David Axelrod is using his right now.

  13. As I said, I hope the GOP is ready for the rule 12 hatefest that’s on the horizon (did it ever stop, ask Palin).

    I would hope that these gov’t employees with their $100K pensions become the face for what Obama’s trying to protect.

    It annoys me to have contact with a govt employee today whose taking a month off for his wedding. In the private sector, I can’t comprehend taking a week off for anything.

    Also, there’s that graph of the deficit explosion over the last 4 years since Pelosi and Reid took charge.

    If Boehner can’t say, we’re adults and we’re trying to stop this ship from sinking, then maybe the marriage of the media and the DNC is too powerful to beat.

  14. Clinton and the media blamed the 1995 gov shutdown on the repubs, and tried to derail their fiscal efforts. But those efforts mostly succeeded, with welfare reform, and a balanced budget by the end of the decade, at which point Clinton took credit for what he had been opposing.

    The way to answer Obama or other dems, when they complain about individual cuts, is to challenge them to propose their own cuts to substitute for the ones they do not like. If they don’t come through, they will be exposed for the big spending hipocrites they are. If Obama or the dems do come through with alternate cuts, unlikely but possible, the repubs should consider enacting some of them, in place of their own, as part of a compromise.

    At this stage, any cuts should be considered good, even ones proposed by dems. Of course the dems are so addicted to big spending that I doubt they will seriously propose any.

  15. Or to reframe the issue. It’s not a problem spending a lot of money if you make a lot of money. The GOP should also attack overregulation to make the USA a good place to do business again.

    But really, just compare and contrast lazy union thugs with gold plate pensions versus everyone else who has to work for a living.

    Maybe the best strategy for GOP is a simple 10% cost cut on EVERYTHING, including entitlements. People in the private sector have had to make due with severely reduced incomes. That would at least appear fair for all losers.

  16. The two big differences between now and 1995 is

    a) the debt was an abstraction for frumpy GOP Stooges to worry about whereas cuts represented real pain, which was no dilemma at all for stupid people; today cuts still represent pain but the 14T debt represents a nascent apocalypse to the extent that a majority of Americans (albeit likely without really understanding) favors defaulting on the debt.

    b) the 2011 Internet vs. most people still getting their politics fed to them through 3 channels during the same time slot in 1995. That is to say, when frowning establishment journalists scold the GOP on TV today, not only are they challenged but most people never hear them in the first place.

  17. 1995: unemployment = 5.6%, inflation = 2.8%

    Today: uneployment = 9% (gamed gov’t figures) or 10% (Gallup), inflation = ?? (gas, food way up)

    1995: dot com bubble firing up, people learn about Cisco, future looks so bright they have to wear shades

    Today: 401(k) way down, housing prices way down (under water?), sell your kids to pay for their college (unless you work for the gov’t)

    If the Republicans can’t put the wood to Obama and his whole crew with this, then they really are the Stupid party. Especially after a trillion dollar “stimulus” that did precisely squat.

    The GOP may not win this – they may have institutionalized stupid by now, but the Tea Party ain’t going away under these circumstances.

  18. I don’t think Obama has a strategy at all. He is too amateurish and ignorant to be that conniving.

    Personally, I think he believes that if he repeats the lie that his budget is actually good and the ignorant masses will believe him.

    Too bad for him, the sleeping populace is awake and won’t fall for that garbage any longer and the old and dead media can’t propagandize it enough to make a difference.

    GOP just needs to keep putting up that graph of deficits and budgets for the Pelosi/Obama years and hammer home the absolute idiocy of keeping these clowns in power.

  19. Lexington, with respect to “civility” and not “attacking Obama”, you don’t have to. Make up a list of stupid, annoying things each federal agency has been doing – intrusive policies that take power from the public – and announce one per agency each week. This won’t be hard, e.g. TSA, Homeland Security “people who believe in smaller government = terrorists”, etc.

    Again, if the Republicans can’t come up with a list of 100 per agency, they really are the Stupid Party. Release this as a “rolling thunder” campaign as you get into the battle. The slow drip-drip-drip of idiocy will play against Obama. HE’S the President, and HE’S the one who wants bigger government. The GOP can keep pointing out that (a) the public is paying for this incompetence, and (b) Obama won’t address it.

    There’s no way he wins this. The American public wants good governance; that’s half of what’s motivated the Tea Party. Obama is about Big Governance, not Good Governance.

    Like I said, if the GOP can’t win this, the’ll go away and be replaced by a Tea Party that will.

  20. These are spirited responses.


    But let us heed the admonition:

    Don’t get cocky!

    Now where did I hear that?

    These jagoffs have a lot of fight left in them.

    Once they start to really lose they will get desperate, and maybe even creative.

    We must not underestimate them.

    But, yeah, prediction? With all due stipulation about how it ain’t over till it’s over? What I really, really think?

    We are going to win.

  21. It goes to the central dilemma of modern politics: Are the majority of people smart enough to see through the government’s Ponzi schemes? Obama is betting they aren’t.

    Sure, the people here are, but I’m guessing the people here also don’t read horoscopes or play Lotto, or invest with Bernie Madoffs.

  22. There’s one more element I’d offer supporting the idea that the fight against Obama’s deeply cynical game is winnable, one I hope would be well received on this blog: the marginal benefits to the Democrats of this approach have already been shown to be diminishing, while the marginal costs to them are mounting. The rivers of cash flowing to favored Democratic constituencies in the form of “stimulus,” bailouts, unsustainable pensions, etc. have deepened their pockets but not broadened their base. Meanwhile, this flow has greatly sharpened the resentments of disfavored constituencies against them, and mounting public debts (carrying a huge and foreseeable tax burden) have broadened opposition significantly. The only measure Obama and the Dems passed that would broaden their constituency (Obamacare) won’t be sufficiently in place to save them, and some well-timed GOP initiatives between now and them could negate even that effort.

    One more thing: the Democrat retention of the Senate majority actively hurts them. Since Obama is facing a divided Congress, he won’t be able to draw as sharp a contrast as Clinton did to energize voters on his behalf.

    Lexington’s point is valid: this fight can easily be lost, but there are a LOT of differences from the way it was in 1995.

  23. Major differences 2012 vs. 1996:


    Hillarycare killed, Obamacare passed.

    Boehner & McConnell much smarter than Gingrich & Dole.

    Peace vs. Chaos.

    Financial crisis.


    People care.

    This smells to me like 1980. Feckless incompetent vs. the unelectable Gipper. We know how that turned out.

  24. “Obama … can attack the Republicans for making the cuts. He will appeal to the people who are suffering from the cuts, and strip away GOP support. They will be angry and mobilized.”

    Obama assumes that there is a group of voters that will be so affected. Maybe, maybe not. AFSCME and the CBC are already Democrats. The loosers maybe sufficiently concentrated in Blue states and already Democrat groups that will not help him.

    “If Obama wins, then the GOP / Tea Party effort is over and the Democrats have won the whole ball game.”

    No. They will go back to their evil ways and the Country will be bankrupt or in hyperinflation within 4 years. The American people sent the GOP to Washington to do an intervention. Like the wily old addicts they are, the Democrats will resist to the very end.

    “It is that serious. Obama’s brazen, no-cuts budget proposal is not a sign of weakness. It is a bold chess move that demands a strong response.”

    Bold? Maybe. But bold is not a synonym for wise, or smart. OTOH, some times when you are playing cards, you have to play them like you will win. It maybe that the cards are against you, and you are doomed from the get go, but if you don’t try to win, you can’t win.

    Personally, I think that 1995 is not up for a repeat. The economy is in very tough shape, the international situation is very shaky, and the Democrat run media has lost a lot of their power. Besides, Clinton was a far better politician than BO, and the Republicans in Congress have had the benefit of an expensive schooling. Remember in 95, the House Republicans had been out of the majority for a generation.

    My slogan for the Republicans is: “Send the Recession to Washington”. I think they can win if they don’t blink and prove they are tougher and more focused than the Democrats.

  25. I have to agree with Lex. The Eurosocialist parties have made long successful political runs using the very tactics Lex describes; and those tactics can be very effective if well played. The MSM will go into a full court press against the GOP if it looks like they’re succeeding, and that alone will persuade many (generally, the least educated and aware).

    Still, were I in the GOP leadership, I would opt for a Gramm-Rudman style deficit reduction approach. It’s the only serious and sustainable way of getting this budget under control.

    Wikipedia entry:
    The Gramm-Rudman-Hollings Balanced Budget and Emergency Deficit Control Act of 1985 (Pub.L. 99-177, title II, December 12, 1985, 99 Stat. 1038, 2 U.S.C. § 900) and Budget and Emergency Deficit Control Reaffirmation Act of 1987 (Pub.L. 100-119, title I, Sept. 29, 1987, 101 Stat. 754, 2 U.S.C. § 900) (both often known as Gramm-Rudman) were, according to U.S. Senator Phil Gramm of Texas, “the first binding constraint imposed on federal spending, and its spending caps have become part of every subsequent U.S. budget. Together with a rapidly growing economy it produced the first balanced federal budget in a quarter of a century.”

    Considering current circumstances, I would exempt the DoD from cuts, considering their spending is still under 5% of GDP, their historical average.

  26. As Boehner has promised a Department by Deparment budget (not a whole ball of wax budget) the concept is to slash funding everywhere in each Department and add in some verbiage of ‘permanent’ downsizing. That would include the other parts of the discretionary budget: Ag, Ed, Energy, Education, EPA, FCC, Labor, Interior, NEA/NEH. Also DoD would be up for some across-the-board cuts, plus looking to close down some overseas bases.

    The benefit of passing a pure austerity budget is that if the Senate rejects it, piece by piece, the House can ‘welcome’ the Senate to being much more austere and thanking them for wanting to close down that portion of the government by not spending on it. If it goes past both House and Senate, then Obama is faced with an austerity budget, piece by piece, that he either signs into law (thus getting the cuts) or vetoes (thus saying that part of the government is unnecessary).

    As this is done to the non-entitlement discretionary part of the budget, the constituency for each part is limited. Parts that go away by not being funded then see their workforce disappear under the orderly rules set up for such things, and their equipment and buildings sold off by the GAO. An ‘austerity or none’ piecemeal approach will show that this House is serious about cuts so that when it comes to ‘entitlement reform’ the American people will know it means business and that the House has made its attempt to downsize government spending for these fiscally hard times. It gets the great benefit of the Senate and President faced with nothing on their pet areas of government as stopping a fiscally sound and austere budget means they aren’t serious about spending… and thus they become the ones shutting down government in a haphazard way, not the House. And as the discretionary functions start to be curtailed who, in particular, will miss them?

    The Tea Party members in the House and Senate can make that possible by going the austere route as they were elected to do. The Beltway Elite in both parties, by trying to stop this, point out who is the problem in DC to be addressed by the next elections. Because the fiscally irresponsible on ‘both sides’ of the aisle will join forces when they are forced to do so. And then things get very, very interesting for a couple of years. Not ‘good’ interesting, btw.

  27. Unmentioned in all the discussion over Mr. Obama’s frivolous budget proposal is this: Where will the money come from to pay for these deficits?

    I don’t believe any group of countries on the planet can possibly come up with this kind of money. Even if there were, is there some hypothetical under which, say India or Germany, would defer investing capital in their own country in order to let the U.S. squander it? If I recall correctly, the last round of Treasury auctions wasn’t exactly a howling success.

    The only source to finance these deficits I can see is to simply run the printing presses overtime. The Fed will generate however much cash it takes to buy the bonds required. The result of that, demonstrated in country after country (for an example, think “Argentina”), will be hyperinflation during a Depression (big “D”).

    (I won’t comment on what might happen in the “reality” inhabited by Democrats and other Leftists. Maybe they believe that all problems will be solved once the unionized Pink Unicorns sprout wings and fly over the country spraying us with Green! Jobs! And Trains!)

  28. This may not mean anything, but I “like” PBS/Masterpiece Theater on Facebook and they sent out a petition to stop Congress from defunding them. Many, many comments were in the vein, “We are in serious trouble, let viewers support PBS, not the government.” And these were from “likers” of PBS, not the general public.

  29. I think the GOP should counter with a proposal to reduce all spending by 10% (or 5%, some small number) to be spread evenly across all departments. This will not allow them to focus on any single demographic to hammer us with over and over.

    Then we propose “streamling” the government. By rolling bloated bureaucracies into more traditional departments. Something like Rand Paul has suggested with DOE, etc.

    This will at least give us positive talking points and tie up the legislature until 2012 when we can really start making changes.

  30. If the rule 12 attacks on the GOP are going to portray us as killing seniors and starving children, then we should at least get the cuts the country needs. Go big or go home. I am glad I’m not the only person to advocate for a huge slash across the board. Even cut people’s social security and federal pay. Hit everyone equally.

    The GOP should have some media savvy to at least show the deficit chart of before and after 2008.

    Also, talk about leading us to be the next Greece.

    Finally, can’t congress point to the slush funds that the various agencies have built up. It was reported that some agencies have billions of dollars on hand that they don’t even know how to spend.

  31. Lex,
    I see two options for the teaparty at this juncture.

    1. Flood lower, provincial/county/parish offices. So long as the Tea Partyers hold home base so to say, the international Left will founder among the hedge-rows of civic society in America’s parishes, counties and burroughts. They’ll be forced to work around established parliamentary procedures like committee, or to revert to violence. Either way, their “democratic” masks will fall.

    2. Ramp up taxpayers’ anger by supporting a multitude of anti-tax initiatives across the country. Making the threat of a popular tax revolt clear and present should be one of the TP’s constant goals.

    It’s clear the Left’s goal is to indebt or indenture a majority of our countryment to their redistributive means. The TP-ers need to get in front of this indigency economy before it dominates the nation’s politics. Here’s one way: the taxpayers are tired of paying for the political class’ frivolities like urban abortion mills, failed car manufacturers’ labor costs, and global billionaires’ media scarism-schemes. When we disgruntled taxpayers realize that we represent the productive majority that pays the bills in this country, the engine for a system-wide tax-revolt will be greased, fueled, and ready to fire-up, when it’s needed to go.

    Gettin’ the Tea Party-machine lubed and readied beforehand makes good sense right now. Above’s the two joints I’d pay attention to while we’ve got it jacked-up and our grease-guns are out.

  32. It doesn’t really matter, either way. The funding cuts must happen. The GOP is in a position to make them happen. If they don’t make signifigant and real budget cuts, then they’ll (1) harm the country, (2) rightfully face the wrath of the voters who put them back in power, and (3) be blamed for everything, anyway.

    So, relatively speaking, there is no political downside. This is an opportunity politicians aren’t often given. Do what is required for the good of your country.

    And if the GOP suffers, well, they deserve to suffer. And if the party doesn’t man up and do the job then they deserve extinction.

  33. I have a followup post on how to cut spending and avoid the Obama trap. It is out and out name calling in the service of setting the battlefield space.

    If you’re not willing to lay out your version of how we avoid hyperinflation and possible government collapse, you’re a man-child, not adult, and need to go off to the little kids table while the adults work out a solution.

    Conservatives and liberals need to understand that our particular policy preferences can take a hit and the country will likely survive the decade if we get spending under control. The same is not the case if we don’t get spending under control.

    By Obama submitting a low cut budget, he’s confirmed that he’s not serious, not an adult, and not worth being listened to about budgetary matters. Let him propose his own cuts and he can sit with the adults again.

  34. “…he’s confirmed that he’s not serious, not an adult, and not worth being listened to about budgetary matters…”

    TML, I can agree with you all day.

    But, he’s the President, so he will be listened to.

    And he is a partisan Democrat who is putting political success ahead of any overall good for the country.

    And he is out to wage and win a political battle.

    I can call say he is not an adult, but if he manages to get the GOP to propose cuts, then campaign against those cuts, force a government shutdown ala 1995 and blame the GOP for it, and if the voters buy it, and reelect him, then on his own terms, he has “won.”

    Also, a period of low economic growth and further crisis, including severe inflation, may be good for the growth of government. If people are desperate, then Obama will have many further opportunities to “not let a crisis go to waste” and to say how heartless the GOP is. If things go really well, meaning badly, it will be like Thomas Friedman’s dream of the USA being just like China — a small elite of connected business people and government personnel, driving past shantytowns in limousines, and a bunch of poor people who have no options but obedience, who rely on the state for work, medicine, housing and survival. A defeated GOP and a second Obama term, he may be able to lock that in.

    Are you sure, from Obama’s perspective, that would be bad?

  35. The tactic is to expose the cynical, manipulative PROCESS Obama is using rather than focusing on the CONTENT he is pushing. Once you expose the process for what it is, then you speculate about the motives behind the process and the likely outcomes if his process is successful. Sunlight and transparency can be death to demogogery. But you cannot let the topic shift over to CONTENT- which is the only thing that the MSM cares about ultimately. Obama is great at projecting confidence. He needs to meet his match in this department by being confronted relentlessly by thoughtful conservatives who also have a spine. There are a few of them out there. It is their time to step up and change history for the better.

  36. I’m with Stanley Kurtz at NRO- http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/259774/where-obama-leading-us-stanley-kurtz. He responds to this post by reiterating that as tough and as distasteful for them as it may be, the establishment GOP has really no other choice than to tell the god awful truth about who Barack Obama is, based on his past actions and associations. I.E., a stealth socialist. I’d add that when pointing out the truth to the various media types, it must be done in a manner that does NOT convey a conspiratorial mindset, anger, etc. In fact, on one level, one can admire Obama as a supreme strategist and tactician, cynically playing to the biases and longings of the media and other elites, while cooly slipping the shiv to Democratic Capitalism. Kind of like a tapeworm excreting its offspring into and through its host.

  37. Obama may be smart, but I don’t think he is that smart. He is ruthless and can play games, but he lacks the substance. He’s copying a game play because he lacks the ability to come up with his own, but its been done, and everyone now knows the play.

    I’d agree with the thrust of the article(s) that Obama is trying to pull a 1995, and that if he succeeds, it will be a major loss for the USA in the longer run. But his chances are slim. Obama is no Clinton. He doesn’t have the experience Clinton had in playing the other side, and while he has surrounded himself with a ruthless crowd from Chicago, I’m not sure they are very good at playing the game under a blaze of publicity either (Chicago has a lot more shadows). Put simply, Obama is trying to copy a play with a second-rate team with no element of surprise.

    The Republicans on the other hand should be a little smarter in the way they approach the whole thing. It’s a trap, but the difference is, this time they know it. That doesn’t mean the ambush won’t work, but it does make it much more likely it will fail.

    Obama has a few other major problems over the next two years that Clinton didn’t have. Clinton presided over a rebounding economy, whereas Obama probably won’t. Aside from his mismanagement of the economy (which has been quite extraordinary), Obama is likely to face two years of turmoil across the Middle East. At this point it is possible we could be seeing revolutions and coups from Algeria to Turkey to Pakistan: pretty much every country in the entire region except Israel is at risk (and Israel is at a different risk as a consequence). Add to that the continuing debt issues in Europe, the continued collapse of the economies of rogue states like North Korea and Venezuela, and its looking like a rocky road.

    Regardless of how all that pans out, it is very difficult to see a scenario that does not include rising oil prices. Put that together with the effects of US monetary policy and the business regulation frenzy, and the economic outlook by late 2012 probably won’t be pretty.

    Obama looks like he will be on the wrong side of almost every issue. In this case, he has made his opening play, but it isn’t a very smart one. At a time when the people of the US are increasingly worried about the state of their economy because of high government debt. Obama goes hell-for-leather for more.

  38. Lexington Green and all of you:

    You are all far, far too optimistic. We ALREADY lost. ObamaCare will never be repealed. It will eventually create near total gov’t dependency. Ridiculous to say that the budget is the big battle. We already lost the big battle when ObamaCare passed. Now the only way we don’t get totally creamed is if the Supreme Court gives us a lucky break and utterly invalidates ObamaCare. Don’t count on it though.

  39. I am inclined to agree with Ben. Fighting statism at this point is a rearguard action, the battle was lost many times over already.

  40. I sense some confusion. On the one hand you portray the issue as one weighing the future of the Republic in the balance. In the next byte you get all worried about 2012. If the first assertion is at all accurate then the second ought not to matter. It reminds me of the strategic German blunder of Stalingrad. Initially the strategic object was the oil of the Caucases. Then Hitler got his shorts in a wad to go after the city with the namesake of his Russian rival. Putting the short term personal at the fore lost him the battle and sealed his fate on the eastern front. The strategic purpose of This class of Republicans was elected to save the Republic, prospects of Obama in ’12 be damned.

  41. “Putting the short term personal at the fore lost him the battle and sealed his fate on the eastern front. The strategic purpose of This class of Republicans was elected to save the Republic, prospects of Obama in ’12 be damned.”

    Well said. Politics are only a means to an end, and this sort of short-sighted focus on the next electoral cycle is a disservice to the voters. I’m not interested in Congressmen who are willing to consign us all to economic disaster so that they can enjoy another term pontificating on C-SPAN about all the things they’re not willing to act on. If Obama is re-elected in 2012 on the backs of the Republicans’ sacrifice, well, that’s unfortunate and unfair, but life isn’t fair.

  42. Mockery is surely the best policy at a time like this. You have to get the population to look at a man who is bankrupting your nation and proposes to fix it by spending even more money – the type of person who can watch a car fall into a ditch and think the best solution is to find an even bigger ditch in which to drive into next time.

  43. “We ALREADY lost.”

    No. Try this:

    “You guys at Valley Forge, forget it. It’s over. The Brits have New York. You lost the big battle when you got pushed out of there. Then they shoveled you out of New Jersey and drove you like whipped dogs into the hills of Pennsylvania. The public is sick of the war, they know have blown it for good, and want to just go over to the British. Face reality.”


  44. smokedaddy Says: , “..the establishment GOP has really no other choice than to tell the god awful truth about who Barack Obama is, based on his past actions and associations. I.E., a stealth socialist.”

    I disagree with this approach. We shouldn’t make this just about Barack Obama, we’re in a fight against the entire Leftist agenda and, most especially at this juncture, their disastrous spending plans that are leading the US into bankruptcy.

    In addition, we can’t just criticize. The TP/GOP needs to offer a sane, responsible, long term plan – an alternative vision – to bring the US budget and bureaucracy under control while sustaining help for those in our society who are truly in need. In short, a plan that libertarians, conservatives and political moderates can all get behind and feel good about. Don’t underestimate the need to have a plan that satisfies the emotional, ideological and intellectual needs of the voters while still accomplishing necessary goals. That’s something Reagan understood quite well.

  45. What I have not seen mentioned (and I freely admit I skimmed past the last 2/3 of the comments, so I may be wrong), was that back in ’95 – Clinton was HOURS away from caving in when the Congress “blinked first”. Yes, the media was pushing down to the wire… but if Clinton had caved, they would have at least tossed a wet-blanket editorial or two about how he was wrong, and ignored the whole episode thereafter… which would have been a win for the Congress and the GOP.

    It’s not necessarily a “bad thing” to push a shutdown, because to be honest, more than 85% of the population won’t see it as anything more than TV entertainment anyway. The simple fact is, even as vastly over-bloated as the Federal Government is today compared to 1995, MOST PEOPLE WOULDN’T NOTICE if the government was shut down for a whole year, not to mention a few weeks of political posturing.

    Make the President cave, and reap the benefits.


  46. Lexington, is there a single example from 20th C history that you can point to where a nation on the verge of total collapse pulled itself back of its own free will and returned to sustained prosperity? All those I can think of actually went through default and chaos rather than make that choice to save themselves. None of them flash to my mind as economic successes since their collapse.

    Even economic “victories” the likes of which Thatcher and Reagan gave us were mere speed bumps on the road to socialism, buying a couple more decades for us before eventual collapse. The moment those visionaries were off the scene, the populations and their leaders went right on with business as usual and the debt burden grew with a vengeance to make up for lost time.

    Fighting just to trim back the increases of Obama let alone attack the baseline position is exactly the kind of rearguard action that signals to both sides; we’ve lost the war already.

    And they’ve won.

  47. “… we’ve lost the war already.”

    Mr. Black, if you really think that feel free to give up and sit it out.

    But if you really believed that, why bother reading this blog or commenting on it?

    I think you hope, or want to hope, that you are wrong.

    Anyway, who cares what other countries have ever done.

    History is a source of lessons not limits.

    Don’t respond to this by telling me further that all is lost, I’ll delete it.

  48. My concern in this connection is that the pitiful budget cuts being proposed now are in areas that a lot of demagoguable voters like relatively much – and have to be relatively large even to achieve their 1% spending cut — threatening to make O’s ploy even more successful.

    I would focus effort on getting into place a ramping down of entitlements. Hopefully, that would be perceived as more “fair, more serious, less ideological because of being so much broader – and more effective.

  49. Lexington, all I have done is point out that your “plan” has never, ever worked. And your reply to this is to tell me to shut up, you’re going to stick with the same plan that has failed every time up till now and just hope a bit harder this time that it works.

    But by all means do carry on, me shutting up is clearly the difference between your success or failure.

  50. You said “… we’ve lost the war already.”

    If you believe that, why are you still hanging around here talking?

    Your done.

    “…by all means do carry on…”


  51. The most straightforward and uncomplicated way to thwart the Progressive/Liberal/Marxist/Socialist monolith. Simply organize the Middle Class to withhold Income Tax Payments on a scale of tens of millions on April 15. The key is to act in concert, with a long list of grievances contra “crimes and misdemeanors”, not to mention violation of the Constitution, Usurpation, Treason, Sedition, and Subversion.

    Rather than large demonstrations and marches which allow a concrete mischaracterization, withholding the sustenance from the Beast will cripple and immobilize him in order that his tendons can be cut, his balance disturbed and his air cut off.

    And then there is the question why the “Right” in this country is not planning, plotting, and gathering strength to spend the next decade(s) to so discredit and disgrace the PLMS in order to exterminate them from serious consideration of public power.

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