Blue Dogs and Greedy Monkeys
By Jay B Gaskill
At this writing, it appears that the Nebraska democrat, Senator Nelson, a putative Blue Dog democrat, has surrendered to a heath care compromise. (LA Times: http://www.latimes.com/news/nation-and-world/la-na-senate-healthcare20-2009dec20,0,1299246.story ) His sticking point was opposition to taxpayer funded abortion services. Evidently, his price was met.
But Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid needs other Blue Dog votes, including that of the independent, Green Dog democrat, Joe Lieberman from Connecticut, to shut down debate.
All this is remarkable in light of the fact that every poll now shows a decisive majority of US voters are opposed to the democratic health care juggernaut.
Why? Public trust has been broken. Far too many undisclosed, un-discussed deal-killing clauses and provisions were bundled into far too many bills that now are better weighed on a butcher’s scale than read in detail. Too much change was bundled into an unwieldy and dangerous package, pushed with too much urgency, with too little time for careful review.
If the bills fail, the story of the greedy monkey comes to mind. The prudent monkey sneaked into the cookie jar, pulled out a single cookie and ran away. The greedy monkey grabbed so many cookies that he couldn’t pull his hand out of the jar and was caught, red handed so to speak.
The Hoover scholar, Victor Davis Hanson, in a year end review, put the situation this way:
“We should be in a natural cycle of rebound, but it looks instead like what the Democrats used to call a “jobless recovery.” The President has hosted a job summit, and jawboned businesses to expand. But most are terrified of an array of new taxes and regulations, and are instead hunkering down. Caricaturing surgeons and the Chamber of Commerce didn’t help. Talk of new cap-and-trade taxes hurt. So did promises of higher payroll, local, state, and federal tax bites.
“We know the federal borrowing (nearly $2 trillion this year) cannot go on much longer. Yet we seem to want to get as much cheap money at 1-2% interest as we can still from the Chinese. The result is that the more the administration and Congress talk of fiscal responsibility, the higher they set the new debt ceilings.
“Enjoy It While It Lasts?
“There is almost an end-of-the-century/‘after me the deluge’ madness in the Congress. With rock-bottom congressional approval ratings, a President with freefalling polls, and a public angry at almost every piece of proposed legislation — from socialized healthcare to cap-and-trade — Congress’s mood seems to be ‘let us race to cram through this statist agenda and get it institutionalized before we all get thrown out in 2010.’”
“Is America a Deer in the Headlights?” http://www.victorhanson.com/articles/hanson121709.html
If I were to select just one issue, the single cookie to snatch from the jar, it would be the dropped coverage issue. The Congress provided a reasonable temporary fix for that in Stimulus 2.0, by subsidizing the employer’s contribution for insured employees who were forced to go on COBRA following job loss. That should have been the seed for a prudent, carefully budgeted, incrementally-implemented reform. There would have been Republican support.
But the president has stated an entirely unreasonable goal for a massive grand health care bargain, to be rammed through by a compliant democratic majority: He wishes to bend the health care cost increase curve downward. Not only is this fiscally-driven bromide a piss-poor rallying cry, it is the fools gold of all federal policy, a metal commonly referred to in engineering circles as unobtanium. “Why?” you ask: Because you can’t blend a new entitlement with cost containment. You might as well try to make ice cream over an open fire.
All entitlements, from Social Security to Medicare, tend to outrun their funding mechanisms. In the long term, they lead us to a choice between bankruptcy or a TAX revolt and reduced benefits. Collectively, the entitlements embedded in the US fiscal economy will result in the bankruptcy of the federal government. I do not exaggerate.
We are living on borrowed time, with borrowed money, relying on a pyramid scheme that is currently being bankrolled by Chinese investment and a rampant fiat money factory. A major new entitlement will be the coup de grace for this fragile recovery. If you pay for it with higher taxes and fees, the costs dangerously impair recovery, and if you don’t pay for it with higher taxes and fees the deficit pressure will trigger the federal bankruptcy tipping point, while sparking another Carter-era “stagflation” in the bargain. You might as well give up on economic recovery until 2012.
Blue Dog democrats earned their charming name because they were closed out of inner circle by the ideologically liberal clique that runs the Democratic Party for so long that they turned blue from the cold. If there is one simple principle that distinguishes the Blue Dogs from their fellow democrats, it is a stubborn fiscal common sense, the quaint notions that bills should be paid, that federal borrowing is not all that different from personal borrowing. Will this actually be true of the handful of fence-sitting Senators that holds the keys to fiscal sanity? That “profile in courage” remains to be measured. The Blue Dog label needs to be earned. There is a moment of electoral reckoning in November next year, when the current blowback in the polls is transmuted by a decisive power shift.