Quote of the Day:
Republican activists strapping on body armor for the impending presidential campaign may get what they’ve been itching for—the Battle of Washington. That would be the long struggle between Big Government and whatever remnants of individual liberty haven’t disappeared inside the federal maw of rules, laws, programs or prosecutions.
–Daniel Henninger in the Wall Street Journal
In a column headlined “The Battle of Washington,” Henninger argues that the Republican call for smaller government may have finally escaped the manifestos, white papers, and books to become a full-fledged issue in 2016. The reason is simple: government has become so big and intrusive that nobody escapes it. This is particularly true after six years of President Obama:
For starters, the incredible federal bloat of the two-term Obama presidency, especially ObamaCare. ObamaCare, both the law’s massive reach and the botched rollout, became the “Ghostbusters” of American politics. ObamaCare was the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man, which seemed to frighten Americans across politics. What is it??!!!
Some may be taking comfort in the notion that, should Mrs. Clinton become the next president, the Clintons are “instinctively centrist,” but Henninger calls this “a pipe dream only Wall Street Democrats and retired generals could believe.” The progressive left, according to Henninger, now has sway in the Democratic Party. You can tell from her campaign so far that Mrs. Clinton is not going to buck it:
You’re not going to hear a peep about the private sector in this campaign, other than her opening-day remark that “there’s something wrong when CEOs make 300 times more than the average American worker.”
Mrs. Clinton is a Democrat inheriting the economic headwinds of the Obama presidency, six years of below-average economic growth that has produced middle-class anxiety over flat incomes and flat jobs. Her solution: Make big government bigger.
Start to finish, the Clinton campaign will be about income maintenance, education subsidies, refundable tax credits, expanded Social Security payments and, needless to say, pumping more helium into the ObamaCare balloon.
But the GOP has a crop of 2016 aspirants, according to Henninger, who regard the small government mantra as more than boilerplate: he cites Senators Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, and Rand Paul (who absorbed small government ideals early on from his father), and Carly Fiorina.
How has the GOP arrived on the outskirts of the Battle of Washington?
The tea party—in its cleaner, 2007 incarnation—blew the whistle on Republican complicity in government’s growth. GOP Sen. Tom Coburn’s campaign in 2005 against Alaska’s “bridge to nowhere,” defended by Republicans Ted Stevens and Don Young, was an important, symbolic event. The spenders are always with us, but the party’s ethos was shifting toward rationalizing government with ideas like Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget-and-tax road map for prosperity in 2012.
More than anything, Leviathan has become vulnerable. The benevolent edifice of big government has been cracking, perhaps since FEMA’s nonperformance during Hurricane Katrina. The loss of faith accelerated under Barack Obama, with bland, acronymic facades cracking across Washington, from HHS to the IRS to the IRS to the VA.
Marco Rubio this week called the whole federal thing so last century. And of course it is. It’s hard to know whether voters born in the 1980s or ’90s, women, independents and minorities will buy the argument that they or their families will be better off if government steps back. What we know for sure is that the lady in the Scooby van has to spend 19 months arguing for more of the same.
Speaking of the edifice of big government cracking, in case you missed it, I want to make sure you see a story in yesterday’s Washington Post: it is about the Sowers family, who operate the South Mountain Creamery, whose butter is described this way: “OMG! their butter tastes like ice cream!”, The Sowers are entrepreneurs:
[Patriarch Randy] Sowers is a high-school-educated entrepreneur who describes himself as inspired by God to deliver local dairy products to busy locavores. The chickens he and his wife, Karen, raise are cage-free, their cows grass-fed, their milk pumped into glass jugs. Nestled in the farmland of Frederick County, Md., South Mountain has fans in both Washington and Baltimore.
But did you know that, if you have a business like the Sowers do, and you deposit money from it in the bank, the government might come and confiscate it? Under a federal law designed to target money laundering the federal government seized more than $29,000 from the Sowers. The government has yet to return it. The Sowers are not alone:
Based on Freedom of Information Act requests, the libertarian Institute for Justice has reported that the Internal Revenue Service has seized almost a quarter-billion dollars in such cases from 2005 to 2012, about half of which was never returned. A third of those cases, like the Sowers case, did not involve allegations of criminal activity beyond the structured deposits themselves.
If this doesn't convince you that government has too much power, nothing will.
Yep, we may be ready for the Battle of Washington.