It’s fascinating to me that in an era that saw the dissolution of a major political party (the Whigs), the formation of another (the Republicans), the fracturing of yet another (the Democrats into War and Copperhead factions), and the cobbling together of one more from pieces of the others (the National Unionists headed by none other than A. Lincoln of Illinois) that, in the end, we still only ended up with the same crappy two-party set-up we have today.
Found on Facebook:
”If the US Government was a family, they would be making $58,000 a year, they spend $75,000 a year, & are $327,000 in credit card debt. They are currently proposing big spending cuts to reduce their spending to $72,000 a year. These are the actual proportions of the federal budget & debt, reduced to a level that we can understand.” Dave Ramsey
I’ll say right now I don’t know who Dave Ramsey is and I don’t know if he even said that, but it’s useful only because I think it highlights the fallacy of how some perceive our nation and its debt.
First of all, our country is not like a family. It’s not like a company, or even a state. It’s something entirely different than all those things. And, because it’s the United States of America and the dollar is the reserve currency of the world, it’s not even like other countries. It is unique. The US government is the last ditch backstop for the entire world’s economy. When companies and consumers won’t spend, the nation has to in order to ensure money keeps flowing through the economy and people keep their jobs. The world is happy (no, really – they’re overjoyed) to loan us money to do that because we are the largest import and export market in the world. By far. If we seize up, so does everyone else.
Back to the family metaphor. Irresponsible borrowers are penalized with high interest rates and/or a lack of access to new credit. The equivalent to that for the US government is the treasury bill market where we sell our debt to the world. Currently, the yield on these is insanely low meaning a) there’s plenty of people lining up to buy them, and b) we could borrow a hell of a lot more if we wanted to. Plus, the rates are so cheap that the cost of doing so is ridiculously low by almost any measure.
Upon further reflection, as much as I enjoy the Newsweek Bachmann cover from a purely visceral standpoint, it probably won’t do anything at all to stem her popularity. In fact, it may only increase it.
Instead of reading the content of the article and judging her to be a dangerous candidate and representative based on her positions and statements, people will look at the picture and decide that Newsweek has unfairly published the most unflattering and stereotypical photo of her it could in order to score a cheap shot. The left will point to it and say, “Look at her! She’s crazy!!” (just like I did) while those on the right will use it as further proof that the media is liberal and biased (which it demonstrably is not). And, at the end of the day, Bachmann will simply regurgitate it down the throats of all the baby bird Tea Partiers already sitting in her nest.
I’m trying to define exactly what it is about Obama I’m finding so dissatisfying. It’s not necessarily his politics. He’s more or less center, I’m center-left on most things. We’re not that far apart. It’s not his pragmatism. I’m a pragmatist, too. God knows we could use more of that in our politics now. No, I think what it is is how he seems to get his ass handed to him so often.
Compare and contrast with Bill Clinton, the Great Triangulator. Clinton often didn’t seem to stand for anything, but in retrospect, I was more consistently happy with his tenure while it was happening than I am with Obama’s. After the mid-terms of 1994 culminating with the federal government shut-downs of 1995 and 1996, you could always see what Clinton got as part of any deal. He didn’t get everything he wanted, but he got something. As hard as the right tried to minimize him and hand him defeat, he always seemed to come out the other side with at least a partial victory. At least, that’s how I remember it.
These days, Obama talks a good game, but he doesn’t seem comfortable in his presidential skin. There are flashes of presidential behavior (Bin Laden), but for the most part he seems like one of those overly obsequious parents who never stops negotiating with a willful child and, ultimately, never seems to make any headway in stemming their willfulness. For someone who ran such a masterful campaign to win the Presidency, he seems to have no idea what Americans think makes a successful president.
A classic example is the 14th amendment option (the one that says the debt of the United States will not be called into question). At a very early point in the debate, Obama said he would not exercise it. No, it had never been done before and, yes, had he done so, it would have likely ended up in court, but it was an option. It was a negotiation ploy. It was a freakin’ stick! Instead, he got all professorial and appealed to his opposition’s better angels. Guess what? They don’t have any. At least not when dealing with him. They know better by now. In any event, Clinton’s position on the 14th was that hell yes he’d use it “without hesitation, and force the courts to stop me.” See?! Sounds like a president to me.
Three times he put the extinguishing of tax breaks for the wealthy out there as his objective towards reaching a more equitable solution to our budget imbalances. Three times he kicked the can down the alley until next time. What happens when there are no more next times? Clinton understood far better (and sooner) than Obama that in order to lead you have to look like you’re winning every once in a while. Obama never seems to win. Health care reform, for example, was so watered down and limp as to have seemed hollow at best.
Even when he wins, it smells like a defeat.
In a Bill Clinton/Michele Bachmann smack-down, you have to pick POTUS 42 each and every time.
I think what America needs as much as anything else is to stop conducting its politics in a parallel universe divorced from reality with no facts.