One thousand, four hundred and twenty four…that’s the number of days that have passed since the Democrat-controlled Senate performed their constitutional duty to pass a budget, more than a year before the ubiquitous iPad was invented. Judging by the contents of that budget, we can see why Democrats were scared to reveal their plans before Obama was safely re-elected and no longer accountable to the voters. It is unbridled recklessness that passes for the Democrat budgeting process.
Such sheer irresponsibility reminds me of P.J. O’Rourke, the civil libertarian who once said “Giving money and power to government is like giving whiskey and car keys to teenage boys.” Admittedly, it is not fair to compare elected Democrats to drunken teenage boys who, even with a fleet of cars and a swimming pool filled with whiskey could not hope to achieve as much damage as is being done by Democrats right now.
The Senate budget demands nearly one trillion dollars in new tax increases, on top of the nearly $700 billion already conceded by Republicans just a few months ago in the “Fiscal Cliff” deal. An almost equal amount would supposedly be cut from spending, but considering the bait-and-switch tactics that have become the modus operandi for Democrats, it is hard to believe that those cuts would ever come to fruition.
During an interview on Sunday, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) suggested that if Bill Clinton were president that the fiscal issues facing the United States could be worked out.
Ryan, who has served in Congress since 1999 and was the GOP’s vice presidential nominee in 2012, told David Gregory on Meet the Press that “if we had a Clinton presidency, if we had Erskine Bowles chief-of-staff at the White House, or President of the United States, I think we would have fixed this fiscal mess by now.” Ryan added, “That’s not the kind of presidency we’re dealing with right now.”
Noel Sheppard, who covered the story at Newsbusters, snarked, “one wonders if Ryan meant a Bill Clinton presidency or a Hillary Clinton presidency.” That aside, Ryan has a point that’s worth expounding upon.
Despite friction between then-President Clinton during the 1990s, Republicans in Congress were able to pass a balanced budget and enact welfare reform and pass capital gains tax cuts. While not all was perfect during these years as Republicans began their slide toward big government, a Democratic president and Republican-controlled legislature were able to reach a compromises that led to a largely prosperous era.
While the vice presidential debate offered something everyone could point to as evidence that their side scored political points, I think the overall result can be encapsulated by a single sentence uttered by my eighteen-year old daughter Naomi about halfway through the debate, when she said “Daddy, Joe Biden really creeps me out.” It seems she wasn’t the only one. Afterwards, one of the main topics of discussion from the punditry was Biden’s creepy grins and inappropriate laughter. It was like watching The Joker from the Batman movie (the one played by Jack Nicholson), only without The Joker’s likeability or charm. That was on top of the constant interruptions, the bold face lies, and the general obnoxiousness of Biden, a man just a heartbeat away, as they say, from the presidency. It was really almost pathetic to watch, like watching a respectful young man patiently endure the idiocy and bellicosity of his weird uncle who gets angrier the drunker he gets.
Stylistically, it was fairly evenly matched. Biden was the more assertive candidate, and dominated the debate on the “visuals”, but on those occasions where Ryan was allowed to speak without being interrupted by Biden or having the moderator cut him off and change the subject, Ryan proved himself as the clear victor based on mastery of the facts and policy. Biden was far outclassed in this area, limited to recycling discredited talking points, regurgitating class warfare arguments, and gazing into the camera at the American people and offering up his version of that old Groucho Marx line “Who are you going to believe, me or your lying eyes?” Creepy, indeed.
Jason Pye has written a great blog post about libertarians and the Romney campaign already. He asked me my opinion about it, perhaps even with the possibility of a “point-counterpoint” sort of thing. I pretty much agree with what he’s saying, particularly about Ron Paul and the Libertarian Party. We are not a monolithic group; we are a very wide and very diverse range of individuals who just want to increase individual liberty.
What I want to add is that, while Republicans and conservatives complain about us, and want us to support them in elections, they have done nothing to earn such support. Let me show you a few examples:
A Romney administration would listen much more closely to a libertarian movement that supported him.
— Brandon Kiser (@Kiser) September 24, 2012
To which I responded with:
@BrandonKiser Then maybe he should do more to support the libertarian movement.
— Jeremy Kolassa (@jdkolassa) September 24, 2012
And to which I got this response:
@jdkolassa I didn’t say it wasn’t a two way street. But I’m pretty sure I know which side burned their bridge first.
— Brandon Kiser (@Kiser) September 24, 2012
Over the last few days, I’ve been reading some interesting conversations on Twitter and elsewhere about the role that libertarians will play in the presidential election. There has been a lot of talk about Gary Johnson, the Libertarian Party’s nominee, spoiling the election for Mitt Romney. That has obviously caused some concern by and friction from conservatives, who are saying that a “vote for Johnson is a vote for Obama.”
Before I jump into some points, I’d like to remind my conservative friends that this is not one national race for president, but rather 51 separate races, including the District of Columbia. By my count, Romney has a long road to haul in many battleground states, including Colorado, Ohio, and Virginia. Right now, President Barack Obama holds a substantial advantage in the Electoral College, which is what ultimately matters on election day.
There is a disconnect between conservatives and libertarians. Our conservative friends tend to believe in the concept of “ordered liberty,” a principle perhaps best explained by Russell Kirk. To most libertarians, the concept of ordered liberty is really “soft statism.” As you might imagine, this view doesn’t really have much of an appeal to libertarians.
When it comes down to it, libertarians don’t fit anywhere on the political scale. While many will dumb down our beliefs as “socially liberal” and “fiscally conservative,” there is really much more to the equation. We believe in the sovereignty of the individual. Our view of morality can be best defined by what John Stuart Mill called the “harm principle.”
But I also think the flat tax will boost the economy’s performance, largely because lower tax rates are the key to good tax policy.
There are four basic reasons that I cite when explaining why lower rates improve growth.
- They lower the price of work and production compared to leisure.
- They lower the price of saving and investment relative to consumption.
- They increase the incentive to use resources efficiently rather than seek out loopholes.
- They attract jobs and investment from other nations.
As you can see, there’s nothing surprising or unusual on my list. Just basic microeconomic analysis.
On Friday, Jennifer Knight published a piece entitled “A Libertarian Case for Romney.” The essence of the post is that the Romney/Ryan ticket are a move in a better direction than President Obama, and as such they should get our vote as a way to try and put the brakes on the path our nation is headed down.
Unfortunately, I can’t help but disagree.
Oh, sure, Romney and Ryan are talking a better game than Obama, but the bar isn’t really set that high. For me, at least, voting for Romney requires a few things that he frankly hasn’t provided.
First, I would have to trust him at his word to actually do what he says he would do. Honestly, I haven’t seen a lot from his record that really convinces me that he’s geniunely interested in “putting the brakes” on anything.
For months now, libertarians are being told that we simply must vote for the GOP nominee (now known to be Mitt Romney) or risk four more years of Obama. Honestly, I’ve been tickled by the arguments.
You see, if the GOP gave a damn about the libertarians out there, why didn’t they nominate someone who we might actually like? Ron Paul, for example, or even Gary Johnson when he was still in the GOP race?
The GOP and its supporters, and their relationship with libertarians, is amazingly similar to a relationship between a an abusive husband and his battered spouse. First, there are the refrains of how they’ve learned their lesson and it will never happen again (like electing someone who swole the national debt and expanded government like George W. Bush). For a while afterwards, things are fine. Then, suddenly, it starts back.
When firefighters are putting out a home blaze, do they carefully cover up all the furniture and belongings so they aren’t harmed by water damage? After a horrific car crash, do the EMT’s carefully disrobe a critically injured patient so as to protect their clothing? No. There is a crisis, a risk to life and property. After the crisis is dealt with - the fire’s put out, a pulse is restored - there is an opportunity to assess the damage and rebuild in a thoughtful, methodical way.
Our country faces crises in the financial and civil liberties sectors. I don’t need to outline the scope here, especially for libertarians. Though we are antsy to achieve the government and society that will ensure and promote civil liberties and free market economic policies, first, in 2012, we need to restore the pulse of the economy before rebuilding the society that’s been systematically taken apart since the New Deal days.
Obama’s plan for the economy involves over-regulation, effectively banning new domestic gas or oil production, and tax increases of unparalleled scope beginning January 1, 2013. Beyond that, there’s not much of a plan - Harry Reid has failed to get a budget passed in well over 1,000 days.
The Romney/Ryan plan leaves much to be desired both in its scope and timing, but it is a beginning. Negotiations can go from there. Even if passed in its current form, it puts water on the fire.
If there was one theme that was found throughout the Republican convention last week, it was this: America is awesome and everything would be great if only our guys were in power. Now, this is certainly not a new idea. It is common for partisans to see their opposition as the source of all our societal ills. But in the Republicans’ case, this is amplified into the concept of “American exceptionalism,” the idea that America is not only a great nation, but one that is uniquely blessed and, thus, obligated to spread freedom throughout the globe.
Now, this would be one thing if it were just a bunch of overblown nationalism. Pride in one’s country is perfectly fine, of course, but the concept of American exceptionalism takes that to an even further extreme, arguing that the normal rules don’t apply to the US and we have a special role unique in history. It is an attitude that causes one to overlook America’s numerous failings and sins, and to excuse actions that, if undertaken by another nation, we could rightly condemn. It is a worldview that calls anyone who questions it unpatriotic and part of the “blame America first” crowd.
Last week, I went to Tampa for the Republican National Convention in Tampa. This was sort of an odd experience for me, being a libertarian and all. Honestly, I had no idea what to expect. I’ve been to conventions and conferences before. The oddest experience was BlogCon in Denver last November, when the local Occupiers showed up to protest us. But the RNC was a much, much larger scale event.
Tropical Storm Isaac: While I understand why Republicans saw fit to scale back events for Monday, the storm really didn’t do much to the Tampa area. It rained some, but it wasn’t near what everyone was expecting. Truth is Republicans could have gotten away with more than gaveling the convention to order. By the time the storm actually hit, everyone was more concerned with what could happen to New Orleans and the rest of Gulf Coast than Tampa.
Grassroots v. the Establishment: Over at FreedomWorks, Dean Clancy has put together a great synopsis of the fight over the new rules implemented, which won’t start until the 2016 process. We went over some of this earlier last week, but at this point many grassroots activists are disenfranchised. Many Ron Paul supporters who attended the RNC as delegates may now be looking for an alternative come November because of the rules changes.
Rule 12 would allow the Republican National Committee to change the rules if 3/4 approve. As Clancy explains, “The new Rule 16 requires that a delegate who attempts to violate his binding pledge to a candidate under state law or state party rules shall be deemed to have resigned and the Secretary of the Convention must record the improper vote as it should have been cast based on state law or party rule.”