You Think the GOP Has Problems?
While everyone gathers around the water cooler Monday-morning quarterbacking Speaker Boehner on the execution of his game plan for the Cliff Bowl before it is even played, let us spare a thought for the hapless Democrats. After all, who would want to be a Democrat as we go into 2013?
Don't be fooled by that tough-guy act.
Yes, yes, we know that the Democrats own the future with the educated, the young, the black, and the Hispanic. And Republicans have just got to learn to speak Hispanic. Even Marco Rubio and Paul Ryan seem to agree.
But my suspicion is that the old song had it right. The new Democratic majority has gone about as far as it can go. You can tell that in the subtext of Democratic policy this holiday season, which seems to be: entitlements today, entitlements tomorrow, entitlements forever.
There is something vaguely familiar about that catchphrase.
Here is how I explain it.
Back in 1989, the Democrats panicked. They had just lost three presidential elections in a row, first to an amiable dunce and finally to a New England blue-blood. How bad can it get?
The new strategy, we can now see, was fiendishly clever. Democrats would feint towards the middle, as in New Democrats, while playing race politics with blacks and Hispanics. And they would use their cultural power to put the mark of Cain on the religious right and social conservatism. Remember how they demonized Pat Buchanan's speech at the 1992 National Republican Convention?
On winning the 1992 election by splitting the Republicans with Ross Perot and demonizing the Bush economy with "worst economy in the last 50 years," the Democrats gave it all back in 1994 with the first Republican Congress elected in 40 years.
The Dems kept the ship afloat in 1996 with the help of Dick Morris and welfare reform, but they failed to extinguish the Republican Congress. In 2000 they almost kept the presidency with an October Surprise on W's DUI.
Fortunately, the razor-thin loss in 2000 gave the Dems an opportunity. They decided not to concede the election but instead keep their partisans at white heat for the next eight years, railing against anything that would stick on the wall. It all finally came together in the 2006 and 2008 elections, with big Democratic majorities in Congress and America's first black president.
This is where things start to go wrong.
Despite the worst economy in the last 50 years, Democrats decided to run the old plays out of the old playbook, and they just went ahead and burdened the economy with more stimulus, more entitlements, more environmental regulation, and more crony capitalism/socialism. In consequence, the economy failed to thrive as it tried to rally from the depths of the Great Recession. What a surprise!
And get this: Just when the economy needed a superfluity of risk-taking businessmen creating new jobs from Maine to California, the Dems decide to run against businessmen, spending months demonizing Mitt Romney as a cruel plutocrat!
Today, President Obama is proposing that all we need to do going forward is to increase taxes on the rich by about $80 billion per year. In the face of a $1,200-billion deficit per year.
Why won't the president come up with a proposal on entitlements? Writes Fred Barnes: "The liberal base of the Democratic party--Obama's base--opposes [it], that's why." Apparently Nancy Pelosi thinks it would "harm the middle class."
Here's where I am left scratching my head. You would think that now would be the time, after the Dems have just won re-election, to take a few tough decisions; that's what politicians usually do right after the election. Apparently, this time, they won't.
Maybe there is a secret deal, known only to insiders, that "they" will spring on us in a couple of weeks after everyone has fed red meat to all their hungry partisans.
Maybe Democrats still think they have solved the Medicare problem with ObamaCare and its shadowy IPAB.
But maybe Democrats are simply afraid to cut any spending, ever, because if they do, then their coalition will start to melt away into the countryside. After all, what idiot sticks with a marauding band of predators after the word goes out that there is no more loot?
Or maybe the Democrats are like the Bourbons, who had "forgotten nothing and learned nothing" when they returned to rule France after the defeat of Napoleon. Sixty years ago, the only thing that a Southern politician needed to know was Segregation. Today the Democrats are more advanced, so their politicians know two things: Entitlements and Inequality.
In the end, dead-end ideas and their mindless promoters get thrown on the ash heap of history. The trick is to make sure that happens before the U.S. gets thrown on the ash heap.
Christopher Chantrill (mailto:email@example.com) is a frequent contributor to American Thinker. See his usgovernmentspending.com and also usgovernmentdebt.us. At americanmanifesto.org he is blogging and writing An American Manifesto: Life After Liberalism.