January 3 2013
George Will’s Washington Post column this morning on “decadent democracy” is depressing, but you’ve got to read it anyway.
Note to GOP elected officials on Capitol Hill: Read and memorize Mr. Will’s column before the looming debt ceiling debate. It will help you make the case to the American people that what President Obama’s strangely sees as “a game” that is beneath his dignity is about the future of our country. We're in deep trouble and on the verge of blowing it because our elected officials can't stop borrowing and spending.
Quoting from a Weekly Standard piece by Christopher DeMuth, Will sums up why the kind of government borrowing we’re seeing these days is so destructive and so different from previous government borrowing.
In the past, Will explains, the government borrowed for such things as wars that were meant to protect liberty for future generations or infrastructure improvements that would also benefit people yet to come. Now, the U.S. borrows just to sustain a gimme state in the present. Ultimately, this state of affairs can’t be go on. There will be enormous suffering as it breaks down, as we’ve been seeing in Greece.
Mitt Romney knew this and in his ungainly (and inaccurate from a percentage point of view) 47 per cent statement made it clear that he fears an unsustainable future. But during the campaign he was unable to come up with an inspiring rationale for curbing government dependence, though he was quick to blame his defeat on such dependence. He was likely right.
Though the hapless GOP allowed the president to frame the issues at stake in the fiscal cliff negotiations as fairness to the middle class (achievable, in the president's view, only by pointless tax hikes on a small cadre of targeted job creators), the negotiations were really about our unsustainable future. Alas, it remains unsustainable.
It is now as clear as it is unsurprising that most Americans will be spared the educational experience of “fiscal cliff”-related tax increases and spending cuts, which would have been a small but instructive taste of the real costs of the entitlement state.
Still, December’s maneuverings taught three lessons.
First, there will be no significant spending restraint. Democrats — you know: the people respectful of evidence and science — even rejected a more accurate measurement of the cost of living that would slightly slow increases in myriad government benefits. Accuracy will be sacrificed to liberalism’s agenda of government growth.
Can’t resist quoting Will’s assessment of our talkative President Obama:
Second, Barack Obama has (as Winston Churchill said of an adversary) “the gift of compressing the largest amount of words into the smallest amount of thought.” His incessant talking swaddles one wee idea — raising taxes on “millionaires and billionaires,” including people earning less than half a million. He has nothing pertinent to say about the steadily worsening fiscal imbalance that will make sluggish growth — less than 3 percent — normal.
But there is good news:
[T]he perils of the entitlement state are no longer (in Hubbard’s and Kane’s words) “safely beyond the politicians’ career horizons.” Furthermore, a critical mass of Republicans reject the careerists’ understanding of “politically rational” behavior. These Republicans have a different rationale for being in politics.
The media, which often are the last to know things because their wishes father their thoughts, say the tea party impulse is exhausted. Scores of House Republicans and seven first-term Republican senators (Rand Paul, Mike Lee, Pat Toomey, Ted Cruz, Ron Johnson, Marco Rubio and Tim Scott) will soon — hello, debt ceiling — prove otherwise.
Will points out that one December winner was George W. Bush. Even the majority of the Democrats voted to make his tax cuts permanent. But this still doesn’t mean we aren’t headed for disaster unless there is a course adjustment on spending and borrowing--the very last thing President Obama wants.