Last Week’s Reality Check About Liberalism and Entitlements

Last week Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) announced he would oppose Neil Gorsuch’s nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court, and probably invoke the filibuster.

Interesting how the filibuster used to be a Democratic tactic to defend Jim Crow, and now it’s a Democratic tactic to preserve abortion on demand.

And then we saw the Republican plan to kinda, sorta, repeal and replace ObamaCare go down in flames.

What is this all about? I think it shows how hard it is to do something about liberalism.

On the Supreme Court, Chuck Schumer and the liberal elite fiercely oppose all “originalist” judges. Why? Because liberals have used their cultural and elite power to turn the judicial branch from courts of law into courts legislating rights. They have imposed their ideas on criminal rights, abortion rights, and homosexual rights, without benefit of election or votes in the legislature. There is a cost to that, it is that every liberal judicial victory is one vote from reversal in the Supreme Court.

Liberals used the Supreme Court to enact their ruling class agenda because they could, but a Supreme Court of liberal ideologues does not persuade; it merely enrages.

What about the debacle of RyanCare, or TrumpCare? Here we are running into the other problem of the liberal era. Liberals get elected by promising free stuff or, more politely, entitlements to the voters. The problem with enacting entitlements, and government spending in general, is that you cannot cut anything. So Paul Ryan was trying to set health care on a path to market reform without disturbing the status quo of pre-existing conditions and insurance for 26-year-old children.

Ryan couldn’t pull it off, partly because the Freedom Caucus refused to be bullied or bought, and partly because Democrats didn’t see the need to help moderate Republicans stop the ObamaCare death spiral.

I suppose that the Democrats believe that sooner or later they will get back into power and give single-payer to a grateful nation. Maybe they are right.

But I think that the last week has shown that the more things change, the more they stay the same: liberals cannot abide the idea of losing the Supreme Court, and conservatives dare not touch the sacred entitlements.

It is no use telling liberals that the purpose of the courts is not to be a vehicle for liberal virtue-signaling, but to enable parties to a dispute to get a resolution without getting out the knuckle-dusters. Liberals are long past listening to reason; they are merely desperate to hide their sacred totems from profanation by the brutish deplorables.

It is no use pointing to the fact that if the government cannot cut spending it cannot reform its programs, and cannot adjust them to changing conditions, e.g. Social Security and Medicare, then it shows that government should never get into the pensions business or the health care business. Or any business.

It is too late for all that. So what that government programs are based on the conceit that you can legislate for the millennium and start to fail the moment they are enacted. Just don’t tell that to Social Security recipients; they earned their benefits.

But never mind about all that. Here’s the real problem: our present escalating partisan obstruction over everything from the Supreme Court to health care, if it continues, will lead to war, either a civil war in which the nationalists fight with the AntiFa, or a wider war in which America’s leaders unify a divided nation by warring against, say, the Muslims.

Now look at this chart of U.S. government spending for the last century, federal, state, and local, from good old usgovernmentspending.com. The bottom blue sector is everything that is not defense or an entitlement. The red sector is Defense, and the other sectors are pensions, health care, education, welfare. (Full Screen for those with strong stomachs)

So almost all the spending is on middle-class entitlements, and the damage really started after World War II. Notice the big peaks in red Defense spending for World War I and World War II. World War I was fought with by a government that spent 10% of GDP pre-war, and World War II was fought by a government that spent 20% of GDP pre-war.

In the war that is to come, how do you think the government is going to pay for it when it is spending nearly 30% of GDP on various entitlements?

And here is another thing. Notice how 60 years ago government could crank up defense spending into the stratosphere for a few years and then wind it back down again after the war? Golly, imagine that!

So government can cut programs. But the only thing it has shown itself competent to cut in the last century is defense.

Could that chart be telling us something, liberals?

Christopher Chantrill @chrischantrill runs the go-to site on US government finances, usgovernmentspending.com. Also see his American Manifesto and get his Road to the Middle Class.

Last week Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) announced he would oppose Neil Gorsuch’s nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court, and probably invoke the filibuster.

Interesting how the filibuster used to be a Democratic tactic to defend Jim Crow, and now it’s a Democratic tactic to preserve abortion on demand.

And then we saw the Republican plan to kinda, sorta, repeal and replace ObamaCare go down in flames.

What is this all about? I think it shows how hard it is to do something about liberalism.

On the Supreme Court, Chuck Schumer and the liberal elite fiercely oppose all “originalist” judges. Why? Because liberals have used their cultural and elite power to turn the judicial branch from courts of law into courts legislating rights. They have imposed their ideas on criminal rights, abortion rights, and homosexual rights, without benefit of election or votes in the legislature. There is a cost to that, it is that every liberal judicial victory is one vote from reversal in the Supreme Court.

Liberals used the Supreme Court to enact their ruling class agenda because they could, but a Supreme Court of liberal ideologues does not persuade; it merely enrages.

What about the debacle of RyanCare, or TrumpCare? Here we are running into the other problem of the liberal era. Liberals get elected by promising free stuff or, more politely, entitlements to the voters. The problem with enacting entitlements, and government spending in general, is that you cannot cut anything. So Paul Ryan was trying to set health care on a path to market reform without disturbing the status quo of pre-existing conditions and insurance for 26-year-old children.

Ryan couldn’t pull it off, partly because the Freedom Caucus refused to be bullied or bought, and partly because Democrats didn’t see the need to help moderate Republicans stop the ObamaCare death spiral.

I suppose that the Democrats believe that sooner or later they will get back into power and give single-payer to a grateful nation. Maybe they are right.

But I think that the last week has shown that the more things change, the more they stay the same: liberals cannot abide the idea of losing the Supreme Court, and conservatives dare not touch the sacred entitlements.

It is no use telling liberals that the purpose of the courts is not to be a vehicle for liberal virtue-signaling, but to enable parties to a dispute to get a resolution without getting out the knuckle-dusters. Liberals are long past listening to reason; they are merely desperate to hide their sacred totems from profanation by the brutish deplorables.

It is no use pointing to the fact that if the government cannot cut spending it cannot reform its programs, and cannot adjust them to changing conditions, e.g. Social Security and Medicare, then it shows that government should never get into the pensions business or the health care business. Or any business.

It is too late for all that. So what that government programs are based on the conceit that you can legislate for the millennium and start to fail the moment they are enacted. Just don’t tell that to Social Security recipients; they earned their benefits.

But never mind about all that. Here’s the real problem: our present escalating partisan obstruction over everything from the Supreme Court to health care, if it continues, will lead to war, either a civil war in which the nationalists fight with the AntiFa, or a wider war in which America’s leaders unify a divided nation by warring against, say, the Muslims.

Now look at this chart of U.S. government spending for the last century, federal, state, and local, from good old usgovernmentspending.com. The bottom blue sector is everything that is not defense or an entitlement. The red sector is Defense, and the other sectors are pensions, health care, education, welfare. (Full Screen for those with strong stomachs)

So almost all the spending is on middle-class entitlements, and the damage really started after World War II. Notice the big peaks in red Defense spending for World War I and World War II. World War I was fought with by a government that spent 10% of GDP pre-war, and World War II was fought by a government that spent 20% of GDP pre-war.

In the war that is to come, how do you think the government is going to pay for it when it is spending nearly 30% of GDP on various entitlements?

And here is another thing. Notice how 60 years ago government could crank up defense spending into the stratosphere for a few years and then wind it back down again after the war? Golly, imagine that!

So government can cut programs. But the only thing it has shown itself competent to cut in the last century is defense.

Could that chart be telling us something, liberals?

Christopher Chantrill @chrischantrill runs the go-to site on US government finances, usgovernmentspending.com. Also see his American Manifesto and get his Road to the Middle Class.

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